Give That Man a Star

Official orders for Jay Zeamer's 1st Silver Star
Official 5th Air Force orders awarding 1st. Lt. Jay Zeamer his first Silver Star

According to the order itself, this is late by a day, due to an apparent transcription mistake in my calendar of events regarding the crew. Need to fix that.

Yesterday, in 1943, Jay Zeamer was officially awarded his first Silver Star, this one for the November 20, 1942, mission that was, remarkably, his first combat mission as pilot-in-command of a B-17.

The mission—a recon of Buna, the Vitiaz Strait, Rabaul, and Gasmata—was originally assigned with Hocutt as pilot and Zeamer as copilot, but when the plane got mired in the mud prior to take-off, Zeamer prevailed on Hocutt to switch places. The mission was no doubt more exciting than anyone expected, not least for Zeamer’s handling of the plane. You can read about it in more detail in the story of the crew on the website, but it’s enough to say here that Hocutt was sufficiently impressed to declare Zeamer transitioned afterward. I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall of his tent afterward to get his fuller thoughts on the mission. We do have the belly-turret gunner’s, who wrote that Zeamer “handled that B-17 like a peashooter” and afterward, according to a letter I received from him, told Zeamer he’d never fly with him again. I suppose if my belly-turret hatch came off in a sudden and pronounced dive, I might have misgivings as well.

In any event, command was enough impressed with Zeamer’s actions and the results of the mission to award him his first Star for the mission. He would receive the decoration from General Kenney himself on April 17.

As for April 7 itself, it was today in 1943 that 2nd Lt. Dyminski, M/Sgt Sarnoski, T/Sgt. Thues, S/Sgt Kendrick, Sgt. Able, and Pvts. Vaughan and Pugh were transferred in grade and reported to the 65th BS, joining Zeamer who had officially transferred two weeks earlier.

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One Comment

  1. David Armstrong


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