Medal of Honor Citation

Lieutenant Colonel Harold William Bauer, who shot down 11 Japanese planes during World War II, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as a fighter squadron commander during the crucial struggle for the control of the Solomons.

On 28 September 1942, LtCol Bauer performed the first feat cited for the Medal of Honor. His squadron was attacked by a superior force of Japanese planes on that day and undaunted by the odds, he engaged the enemy and shot down one of their bombers. Again attacking a superior force on 3 October, he shot down four of the enemy and left a fifth badly damaged.

While leading a reinforcement flight on 16 October from Espirito Santo to Guadalcanal 600 miles away, LtCol Bauer was about to land at Henderson Field when he noticed a squadron of Japanese planes attacking the USS McFarland off shore. Though the long flight from Espirito Santo had almost exhausted his fuel and he knew no friendly planes were able to assist him, he immediately proceeded alone to attack the enemy and succeeded in destroying four of them before lack of gasoline forced him to return to Henderson Field.

He was forced to ditch his plane over water on 14 November after downing two of the enemy in an attack 100 miles off Guadalcanal. He was last seen in the water in his Mae West (a water flotation device) and did not appear to be seriously hurt. Days of intense searching by planes and Russell Island natives failed to locate any further trace of him.

The squadron under his command at Guadalcanal was officially credited with downing 92 Japanese planes and helping to sink two of their destroyers. LtCol Bauer was commended for his action in the South Pacific by commanders of Army, Navy and Marine Corps units including Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., then Commander of the South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force.

Harold William Bauer was born in Woodruff, Kansas, on 20 November 1908 and grew up in North Platte, Nebraska. He entered the Naval Academy from Nebraska in 1926; and, after graduation in 1930, he was appointed a Marine second lieutenant.

Following his commissioning, 2dLt Bauer attended the Officers Basic School at Quantico, Virginia. He was then assigned as a company officer with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines at Quantico after completing the basic school there.

In 1932 he became assistant basketball and lacrosse coach at the Naval Academy and an instructor in marksmanship, until his assignment to the San Diego Naval Base were he was the Assistant Range Officer. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 29 May 1934.

He was then assigned to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, in December 1934 where he earned his wings as a Marine aviator in February 1936. He was promoted to captain on 30 June 1937.

He was transferred to the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, in June 1940 where he served as squadron officer of a fighter squadron. While stationed at San Diego, he participated in carrier group exercises on the USS Lexington and USS Saratoga.  

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he was sent to Midway for duty as a squadron commander. He was transferred to Hawaii in February 1942 and then was ordered to the South Pacific where he took command of Marine Fighter Squadron 212. He was promoted to major on 29 April 1942 and lieutenant colonel on 7 August 1942.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, LtCol Bauer's medals and decorations include: Letter of Commendation Ribbon, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one battle star and the World War II Victory Medal.

World War II 1941-1945 Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University