2nd Lt. Joseph R. Sarnoski
U.S. Army Air Force, B-17 Flying Fortress Bombardier
Born January 30, 1915 in Simpson, PA. Joined the U.S. Army in Simpson, PA. Assigned as a B-17 bombardier with the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron flying bombing and reconnaissance missions over New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland and the Northern Solomons.
On June 16, 1943 volunteered as bombardier aboard B-17E "Lucy" 41-2666 on a solo photographic reconnaissance mission over Buka Airfield. After completing the photographic run, Intercepted by roughly twenty Zero fighters and survived a forty minute dog fight against the enemy fighters. Sarnoski manned the nose guns and fought off the first pass but was wounded but continued firing at the attackers, claiming two planes shot down. When a 20mm shell exploded in the nose knocked him back, he crawled back to his guns and resumed firing until he collapsed and died at his station.
Posthumous Medal of Honor (G.O. No.: 85, 17 December 1943)
Citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 16 June 1943, 2d Lt. Sarnoski volunteered as bombardier of a crew on an important photographic mapping mission covering the heavily defended Buka area, Solomon Islands. When the mission was nearly completed, about 20 enemy fighters intercepted. At the nose guns, 2d Lt. Sarnoski fought off the first attackers, making it possible for the pilot to finish the plotted course. When a coordinated frontal attack by the enemy extensively damaged his bomber, and seriously injured 5 of the crew, 2d Lt. Sarnoski, though wounded, continued firing and shot down 2 enemy planes. A 20-millimeter shell which burst in the nose of the bomber knocked him into the catwalk under the cockpit. With indomitable fighting spirit, he crawled back to his post and kept on firing until he collapsed on his guns. 2d Lt. Sarnoski by resolute defense of his aircraft at the price of his life, made possible the completion of a vitally important mission."
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