William J. Ford, Jr.

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to First Lieutenant William J. Ford., Jr., for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight. On 23 February 1944, Lieutenant Ford was the co-pilot of a B-24 type aircraft leading a formation of heavy bombers on a mission to destroy an enemy aircraft assembly plant and adjacent airfield in Austria. Nearing the target area the formation was savagely attacked by swarms of enemy fighters firing rockets and high explosive shells. Just before the bomb run began Lieutenant Ford’s ship received a direct hit which completely destroyed the top turret dome, tore large gaps in the windshield and rendered the Number two engine inoperative. The pilot was forced to relinquish command of the aircraft and formation to Lieutenant Ford because he had become completely numbed by the cold. Although partially blinded and almost completely numbed by the frigid blasts of cold air, Lieutenant Ford, realizing that to drop out of the formation at such a critical time would nullify the planned method of attack for the entire formation, struggled against great odds to maintain an intact formation. Exerting great skill and ability he led his formation on a steady and accurate bomb run from which the target was bombed with devastating effect. Forced to drop out of formation after leaving the target, he flew his unescorted bomber for two hours over enemy territory and, although subjected to continuous attacks, he brought his aircraft and crew safely back to base. By his indomitable courage and professional skill together with his personal example as shown throughout over thirty-eight successful missions, Lieutenant Ford has reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.