380th Bomb Group Association
NEWSLETTER #31 -- July 2007
380th MEDALS AND DECORATIONS
In response to an inquiry on June 6th from Kaye Bonato asking about information on her father's (James Bryce Ohern of the Bilotti crew) service with the 380th, Ted Williams provided the following answer regarding 380th medals and decorations:
In answer to your question there are two classes of things that one can pin on. These are Decorations and Medals. Decorations are for valor or service, generally in war against an enemy, where one was in danger of injury or death. Medals are given for service only, such as being in a war theatre or at specific battles.
Available decorations in descending order of importance were:
(1) Medal of Honor (none of our people got this);
(2) Distinguished Service Cross (I believe several of the initial pilots got this);
(3) Distinguished Service Medal (non combat service, generally to Generals and Colonels as they change assignments, occasionally to lower ranks for particularly outstanding non-combat service;
(4) Silver Star, again for outstanding combat service, there were several in the 380th. Gorman Smith's crew all got them as I recall as well as many others;
(5) Distinguished Flying Cross, for outstanding valor in aerial flight; all of the initial flight crews received this on finishing their missions. This was stopped once they were gone, and only a few were given to later fliers;
(6) Air Medal, for distinguished service in aerial flight, all air crew got these for combat hours or missions flown. In Europe they got them for each five missions flown, we got one for each 100 hours of flight time on missions. With 365 combat hours I have three (the medal plus 2 oak leaf clusters symbolizing additional awards);
(7) Bronze Star, subsidiary to the Silver Star as the Air Medal is to the Distinguished Flying Cross;
(8) Purple Heart, generally given for wounds received from enemy action (in today's Army the Purple Heart ranks above the Bronze Star);
(9) Good Conduct, given for at least one year of honorable service as an enlisted man. Officers who have had that much service as an enlisted man can also wear this.
There were three different Service Medals for WWII, one each for the American Theatre (for any service in the Western Hemisphere); the European, African and Middle Eastern Theatre, for service there; and the Asiatic, Pacific Theatre which was our area. Within each Theatre there was a series of succeeding campaigns, each of which served to mark the succeeding battles which took place there. The 380th was entitled overall to several of these for our area. Service during any battle period entitled you to a small star on this ribbon. Our crew had five such stars. A ground person in the 380th could get as many as 13 because of the long time they were overseas.
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