Harold W Bauer
Harold was born on the 20th of November, 1908 in Woodruff, Kansas, to Volga German immigrants. He had a two brothers and two sisters and he was active in football, track, and baseball during high school. After high school, Harold entered the US Naval Academy and graduated as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1930. His brothers would also go through the Academy and Harold went on to Officers Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, where he then was assigned to be a company officer with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. Before being assigned to the San Diego Naval Base, Harold was the assistant coach of the Naval Academy basketball and lacrosse teams as well as a marksmanship instructor. Now a first lieutenant, he was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida in December of 1934. Here, Harold earned his wings of gold as a naval aviator in February of 1936 and six months later he was promoted to captain. Once he was stationed back in San Diego, now at the Naval Air Station, Harold served as the executive officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 221 and participated in carrier group exercises on the USS Lexington and Saratoga. Once the attack on Pearl Harbor happened on the 7th of December, 1941, Harold and VMF-221 prepared to embark to Hawaii on board the USS Saratoga.
On the 29th of April, 1942, Harold was promoted to Major and was in command of VMF-212 and they were deployed to the South Pacific where he was also responsible for the airfield that the squadron was using. Harold was promoted to lieutenant colonel after only three months of being a major and it was his actions in the air over Guadalcanal that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage as Squadron Commander of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO TWELVE in the South Pacific Area during the period May 10 to November 14, 1942. Volunteering to pilot a fighter plane in defense of our positions on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Lieutenant Colonel Bauer participated in two air battles against enemy bombers and fighters outnumbering our force more than two-to-one, boldly engaged the enemy and destroyed one Japanese bomber in the engagement of September 28 and shot down four enemy fighter planes in flames on October 3 leaving a fifth smoking badly. After successfully leading twenty-six planes in the over-water ferry flight of more than six hundred miles on October 16, Lieutenant Colonel Bauer, while circling to land, sighted a squadron of enemy planes attacking the USS McFarland. Undaunted by the formidable opposition and with valor above and beyond the call of duty, he engaged the entire squadron and, although alone and his fuel supply nearly exhausted, fought his plane so brilliantly that four of the Japanese planes were destroyed before he was forced down by lack of fuel. His intrepid fighting spirit and distinctive ability as leader and an airman, exemplified in his splendid record of combat achievement, were vital in the successful operations in the South Pacific Area.
After downing two enemy aircraft about 100 miles off of Guadalcanal, Harold was shot down. He was seen in the water as the daylight was fading with his flotation device and didn't appear seriously hurt. An intense search began the following morning but no trace of him was ever found. Harold's squadron was officially credited with downing 92 Japanese places and sank two destroyers and he was personally commended by commanders of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. The airport in Port Vila, Vanuatu is named the Bauerfield International Airport in his honor and Harold William Bauer has his name on the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila.