Tom Applewhite received the DFC, Distinguished Flying Cross, for saving the B-17, “The Wild Hare,” and its crew on 14 October 1943. The following items are (1) the text of the Notice of Award of Decoration followed by (2) Tom’s description of the events in a letter he wrote in 1946 to the pilot, John McGowan.
NOTICE OF AWARD OF DECORATION
Type of Award and Date: Distinguished Flying Cross
Oakleaf Clusters to the: Air Medal
25 May 1944
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS – For extraordinary achievement, while serving as Bombardier of a B-17 airplane on a mission over Germany, 14 October 1943. Just after bombing the target, he was informed that two of the bombs had failed to release and were swinging back and forth in the bomb-bay. Realizing that [a] sudden lurch of the plane, which was under fierce attack, might explode them, Lieutenant Applewhite, working over the open bomb-bay, attempted to secure the bombs. Suffering from lack of oxygen and frost-bite he returned to the radio room and instructed the navigator to close the bomb-bay doors. After obtaining another supply of oxygen, Lieutenant Applewhite went down into the bomb-bay, inserted pins in the two bombs and then secured them in the racks. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by Lieutenant Applewhite saved his aircraft and crew from probable destruction and reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.
ONE OAK-LEAF CLUSTER TO AIR MEDAL – For exceptionally meritorious achievement, while participating in five separate bomber combat missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by these Officers and Enlisted Men upon these occasions reflect great credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.
I was 11 years old in 1943. My older brother was a close friend of Tom’s. We all knew Tom had acted heroically when dealing with the bombs. I understood he kicked them free, but that seems to be a misconception. After he had returned to Memphis, Tn. during the war, he showed us a silver silk boot hidden under his uniform lapel, a sign that he had escaped. He expressed sincere gratitude for the help he had received, and talked a lot about some woman.
I believe Tom’s brother, Jack, was lost in a B-26 Marauder over the Bermuda Triangle during the war. Both very handsome men.
Looking for information about Jaap Ketting who was a pilot flying B-25 for the Netherlands Air Force after training in the U.S.
I’m sorry to tell you he died some years ago. Please go to this link: http://www.record-review.com/record-review/Record-Review_042012_Jaap_Ketting.html
Piet Truren, Netherlands