The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
*METZGER, WILLIAM E., JR.
Rank and Organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 729th Bomber
Squadron 452d Bombardment Group. Place and Date Saarbrucken, Germany, 9 November
1944. Entered Service at: Lima, Ohio. Born: 9 February 1922, Lima, Ohio. G.O.
No.: 38, 16 May 1945.
Citation: On a bombing run
upon the marshaling yards at Saarbrucken, Germany, on 9 November 1944, a B17 aircraft on
which 2d Lt. Metzger was serving as copilot was seriously damaged by antiaircraft fire.
Three of the aircraft's engines were damaged beyond control and on fire; dangerous flames
from the No. 4 engine were leaping back as far as the tail assembly. Flares in the cockpit
were ignited and a fire roared therein which was further increased by free-flowing fluid
from damaged hydraulic lines. The interphone system was rendered useless. In addition to
these serious mechanical difficulties the engineer was wounded in the leg and the radio
operator's arm was severed below the elbow. Suffering from intense pain, despite the
application of a tourniquet, the radio operator fell unconscious. Faced with the imminent
explosion of his aircraft and death to his entire crew, mere seconds before bombs away on
the target, 2d Lt. Metzger and his pilot conferred. Something had to be done immediately
to save the life of the wounded radio operator. The lack of a static line and the thought
that his unconscious body striking the ground in unknown territory would not bring
immediate medical attention forced a quick decision. 2d Lt. Metzger and his pilot decided
to fly the flaming aircraft to friendly territory and then attempt to crash land. Bombs
were released on the target and the crippled aircraft proceeded along to Allied-controlled
territory. When that had been reached 2d Lt. Metzger personally informed all crewmembers
to bail out upon the suggestion of the pilot. 2d Lt. Metzger chose to remain with the
pilot for the crash landing in order to assist him in this emergency. With only 1 normally
functioning engine and with the danger of explosion much greater, the aircraft banked into
an open field, and when it was at an altitude of 100 feet it exploded, crashed, exploded
again, and then disintegrated. All 3 crewmembers were instantly killed. 2d Lt. Metzger's
loyalty to his crew, his determination to accomplish the task set forth to him, and his
deed of knowingly performing what may have been his last service to his country was an
example of valor at its highest.