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Captain Donald Lester Tracy - 353rd Squadron

I am a member of Oklahoma Congressman John Sullivan's Veteran's Advisory Council here in Tulsa. I assist area vet's and/or their families in assisting them in obtaining their decorations from the gov't. Recently, I have been heloing the family of Captain Donald Lester Tracy who served as a bombardier with the 353rd Bomber Squadron, 301st Bomb Group, 15th Air Force in WWII. Mr. Tracy passed away earlier this year and I have been assisting his son Doug and daughter Donna in obtaining all of their father's medals. I have obtained all that I had proof he rated. However, his son Doug discovered the following entry on the net this week about his dad: Donald Lester 'Don' Tracy BRANCH OF SERVICE U.S. Army Air Forces HOMETOWN Tulsa, OK HONORED BY Robert S. Cox ACTIVITY DURING WWII ENLISTED IN ARMY SERVICE AFTER GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL IN 1939. SELECTED FOR FLYING TRAINING AND TRANSFERRED TO THE ARMY AIR FORCES FOR TRAINING AS A BOMBARDIER. UPON COMPLETION OF BOMBARDIER SCHOOL, AWARDED SILVER BOMBARDIER WINGS AND COMMISSIONED A SECOND LIEUTENANT. HIS UNIT MOVED TO CHELVESTON, ENGLAND IN AUGUST, 1942 AND WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 8TH AIR FORCE. SERVED ON B-17 ?FLYING FORTRESS? BOMBERS WITH THE 353RD BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON, 301ST BOMBARDMENT GROUP IN THE EUROPEAN-AFRICAN-MIDDLE EASTERN THEATER. PARTICIPATED IN THE AIR COMBAT, AIR OFFENSIVE-EUROPE, TUNISIA, SICILY, NAPLES-FOGGIA, ANZIO AND ROME-ARNO CAMPAIGNS. ENTERED COMBAT IN SEPTEMBER, 1942 AGAINST STRATEGIC TARGETS SUCH AS SUBMARINE PENS, AIRFIELDS, RAIL LINES AND KEY BRIDGES ON THE CONTINENT, PRIMARILY IN FRANCE. HIS UNIT MOVED TO NORTH AFRICA IN NOVEMBER, 1942 AND WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 12TH AIR FORCE AND BASED AT TAFARAOUI, ALGERIA. ALSO BASED AT MAISON BLANCHE, BISKRA, AIN M?LILA AND SAINT-DONAT IN ALGERIA AND AT OUDNA, TUNISIA. ENGAGED IN BOMBING STRATEGIC TARGETS IN TUNISIA, SICILY AND SARDINIA AND AGAINST ENEMY SHIPPING BETWEEN TUNISIA AND SICILY. ATTACKED GUN POSITIONS ON PANTELLERIA IN MAY AND JUNE 1943. HIS UNIT WAS REASSIGNED TO THE 15TH AIR FORCE AND MOVED TO CERIGNOLA, ITALY ON DECEMBER 7, 1943. TOOK PART IN STRATEGIC BOMBING AGAINST OIL, COMMUNICATIONS AND INDUSTRIAL TARGETS ON THE CONTINENT AND IN THE BALKANS. HIS AIRCRAFT WAS SHOT DOWN DURING A MISSION OVER VILLAORBA, ITALY ON JANUARY 30, 1944. HE WAS TAKEN AS A PRISONER OF WAR (POW) BY AXIS FORCES AND SPENT THE REMAINING 15 MONTHS OF THE WAR IN A POW CAMP IN NORTHERN GERMANY. LIBERATED BY RUSSIAN ARMY FORCES, HE WAS REPATRIATED AFTER THE WAR. AWARDED THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS, PURPLE HEART, AIR MEDAL, PRISONER OF WAR MEDAL, GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL, AMERICAN DEFENSE MEDAL, AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL, EUROPEAN-AFRICAN-MIDDLE EASTERN CAMPAIGN MEDAL AND WWII VICTORY MEDAL. AUTHORIZED THE PRESIDENTIAL (DISTINGUISHED) UNIT CITATION FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM IN ACTION BY HIS UNIT ON APRIL 6, 1943 DURING ATTACKS AGAINST A CONVOY OF MERCHANT SHIPS OFF BIZERTE, TUNISIA. THE MISSION WAS CONDUCTED AGAINST INTENSE ANTIAIRCRAFT FIRE FROM SHORE AND SEA-BASED DEFENSES AND SUCCEEDED IN DESTROYING SUPPLIES ESSENTIAL TO THE ENEMY?S DEFENSE OF TUNISIA. HONORABLY DISCHARGED WITH THE RANK OF CAPTAIN AND ISSUED THE HONORABLE SERVICE LAPEL BUTTON. We have no documentation in Captain Tracy's personal records he earned the DSC or the Purple Hart. We also have no idea who Robert S. Cox might be. If Captain Tracy did in fact earn these two decorations, we need verification of this so we can appeal his record back to NPRC/Air Force so those medals can be issued. Can you assist us in any way? Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR (RET) 5719 East 31st St Tulsa, OK 74135-5102 Rick Lawrence 5719 East 31st St Tulsa OK 74135 USA ww2tulsa@yahoo.com
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Photos

  • July 26, 1944 Revisited in 2009 by Bill Brainard
  • Personal Album of William Boley
  • Personal Album of Floyd Byerly
  • Personal Album of Thomas A. Coyne
  • Personal Album of Thaddeus T. Crump

    Servicemen

  • 1st Lt. James Butchartt 301st BG 352nd BS
  • 1st Lt. Harry Wann 301st BG 353rd BS
  • S/Sgt. Fred Harmon 301st BG 352nd BS
  • Sgt. George Marich 301st BG 353rd BS
  • 1st Lt. John Hayes 301st BG 419th BS


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