Vincent A. Fonke

The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Second Lieutenant Vincent A. Fonke for heroism while participating in aerial flight as the pilot of the B-17, near Eisenach, Germany on 16 August 1944. On that date, Lieutenant Fonke’s bomber, part of a 36 bomber formation, was attacked by enemy German fighters. Initially it disabled the number two engine causing it to catch fire. The aircraft abruptly turned to the left and, as Lieutenant Fonke struggled to regain control, noticed that the left wing was on fire between the number three and four engines sending flames 30 feet to the rear. Realizing the aircraft could explode at any moment, the bomb payload still onboard, Lieutenant Fonke ordered the immediate bailout of his crew, while he maintained straight and level flight. When he was assured that all of the crew members had safely exited the aircraft, Lieutenant Fonke made his way to an exit and bailed out, moments before the aircraft exploded. His exemplary flying skills, devotion to his crew ensured their survival. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Second Lieutenant Fonke reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Force.