The ceremony to deliver the presidential citation awarded to John Pedevillano, a B-17 bombardier during World War II, took place last Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol Hill in Washington, hosted by Arizona Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer
2nd Lt. John Pedevillano, who turns 93 later this month, was 22 years old, when his B-17 was shot down by Nazi fighter pilots in Germany in 1944. He was part of U.S. Army Air Corps' 306th Bomb Group. More than 70 years after, Pedevillano has received the Presidential Unit Citation, with one Oak Leaf Cluster, for extraordinary heroism in combat, as Matthew Daly, AP’s journalist, has reported.
Pedevillano flew six combat missions before being shot down over southwest Germany on April 24, 1944. He and his crew were missing for a month before being taken as prisoners of war. The men were liberated by U.S. Army forces under Gen. George S. Patton in 1945.
[Via news.yahoo.com - AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster]
Based at RAF Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, in south-central England, as part of the Eighth Air Force, the 306th was the longest continuously-serving bomb group of the Eighth Air Force during World War II, and led the first mission against a target in Germany. Between October 1942 and April 1945, the Group bombed a variety of enemy targets in Europe, including railroad facilities and submarine pens in France and ball-bearing works, oil plants, marshaling yards, chemical plants, aircraft factories, and foundries in Germany.
The "Mighty 8th" Bomb Wing remains among the most storied in military history. Throughout the war, the unit earned 17 Medals of Honor, many Distinguished Flying Crosses and Silver Stars, more than 7,000 Purple Hearts, and 46,000 Air Medals. The unit took 47,000 casualties throughout the war, including 26,000 deaths, Brian Everstine, Air Force Times's journalist, reports.