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First Name: Leo

Last Name: Fletcher

Birthplace: Pampa, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)



Home of Record: Pampa, TX
Middle Name: Carlos



Date of Birth: 20 June 1916

Date of Death: 19 June 1999

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served: 1940 - 1970
Leo Carlos Fletcher

   
Engagements:
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)

Biography:

Leo Carlos Fletcher
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Leo Carlos Fletcher was born on 20 June 1916 in Pampas, TX, the son of Ernest and Anna Lee Fletcher.

On 23 November 1940, Fletcher joined the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, TX. On 7 December 1941, he entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps to become a pilot. Upon graduation he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with the rating of Pilot. On 25 June 1942, 2LT Fletcher was assigned to the 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy) flying the B-24 Liberator Bomber, at Tucson, AZ. The 459th and its 4 squadrons moved overseas in December 1943, via South America and Africa. In January 1944, 2LT Fletcher began flying missions against the Germans.

From December 1943 to July 1944, LT Fletcher flew 35 missions over the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operation - from Ploesti, Rumania, to France, to Germany. While completing these bombing missions against the Germans, he was forced to crash land twice due to enemy fire, including the following mission:

On 13 June 1944, then-First Lieutenant Fletcher was serving as Pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber in the 757th Bombardment Squadron, 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Fifteenth Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces.

On that day, 1LT Fletcher’s unit was participating in a highly-important bombing mission over Munich, Germany. After crossing a high mountain range, one of the 4 engines of 1LT Fletcher's aircraft failed, causing a serious loss of power. Despite this problem, he elected to remain with the formation and continue on to the target. En route to the target, the B-24 sustained many hits from attacks by German fighters and intense anti-aircraft fire. 1LT Fletcher used his flying skills to successfully employ evasive action while completing his bombing run. After bombing the target, a second engine of his aircraft became inoperative, causing him to lose speed and become separated from the formation. Although the malfunctions of the 2nd engine were corrected, his plane was far to the rear of the formation which made it more vulnerable to enemy action. The sustained hits of the attacks of German fighters, the accurate enemy anti-aircraft fire, and the rapidly diminishing fuel supply made it necessary to land soon.

An attempt to land on the beach was met with heavy anti-aircraft fire that forced him to fly out to sea. Due to the injuries already inflicted on some crew members, 1LT Fletcher decided to crash-land in the sea. Although momentarily stunned and injured by the force of the landing, 1LT Fletcher escaped from the rapidly-sinking plane only to find that the co-pilot and navigator were still imprisoned. Despite being fully aware of the danger of the aircraft sinking rapidly, and burdened by his cumbersome flying clothes, 1LT Fletcher quickly returned to the bottom of the submerged flight deck and succeeded in rescuing these 2 officers. 1LT Fletcher directed first aid and was responsible for gathering the scattered crew members into one raft. As they neared the shore, German troops opened fire on the raft with a light cannon so, with his characteristic calm, 1LT Fletcher swung the raft around and headed for the open sea. During the 6 hours in the raft, 1LT Fletcher made no mention of his own wounds and assumed full responsibility for the care and treatment of the others. 1LT Fletcher’s flying skills, selfless, courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day earned him the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

1LT Fletcher was released from active duty in 1945 and served as a Pilot with American Airlines until 1948 when, as a Reserve Officer he was recalled by the Air Force as a pilot. He remained in the Air Force until his retirement on 1 January 1970, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

During the period 1945 to 1972, Fletcher was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree, and completed requirements for a Master of Arts Degree, from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster
Presidential Unit Citation
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award
Command Pilot Badge

Distinguished Service Cross Citation

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Leo C. Fletcher (0-683985), First Lieutenant (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a B-24 Heavy Bomber in the 757th Bombardment Squadron, 459th Bombardment Group (H), FIFTEENTH Air Force, while participating in a bombing mission on 13 June 1944, against enemy targets in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. On this date, First Lieutenant Fletcher was participating in a highly important bombing mission over Munich, Germany. Immediately after crossing a high mountain range, one engine of Lieutenant Fletcher's aircraft became inoperative, thus subjecting his aircraft to a serious loss of power. Despite this handicap, he elected to remain with the formation and continued on to the target. The aircraft sustained many hits from aggressive attacks of enemy fighter aircraft and unusually intense anti-aircraft fire. Lieutenant Fletcher displayed unusual ability in successfully employing evasive action while completing his bombing run. Immediately after bombing the target, another engine became inoperative causing him to lose speed and become separated from the formation. The malfunctions of this engine was corrected but his aircraft was far to the rear of the formation which rendered them more vulnerable to enemy action. The sustained hits of the unusually vicious attacks of enemy fighter aircraft and accurate enemy aircraft fire and the rapidly diminishing fuel supply necessitated landing shortly. An attempt to land on the beach was met with anti-aircraft fire which forced him to fly out to sea. Because of the injuries inflicted on some of the members of the crew, Lieutenant Fletcher decided to crash land in the sea. Although momentarily stunned and injured by the force of the landing, Lieutenant Fletcher escaped from the rapidly sinking aircraft only to find that the co-pilot and navigator were still imprisoned. Fully cognizant of the immediate danger of the aircraft sinking and burdened by his cumbersome flying clothes, Lieutenant Fletcher, unhesitantly, returned to the bottom of the submerged flight deck and succeeded in rescuing these two officers. Lieutenant Fletcher directed first aid and was responsible for the bringing together of the scattered members of the crew into one raft. Upon nearing shore enemy troops opened fire on the raft with light cannon. With characteristic coolness Lieutenant Fletcher swung the raft around and headed again for open sea. During the six hours in the raft Lieutenant Fletcher made no mention of his own wounds and assumed full responsibility for the care and treatment of the others. Lieutenant Fletcher's heroism, gallantry and valor were exemplary and reflect great credit upon himself, the 15th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

Headquarters: U.S. Army-Mediterranean Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 54 (1944)

Death and Inurnment

Lieutenant Colonel Leo Carlos Fletcher died on 19 June 1999. His cremains are inurned at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Bexar County, TX, in Section CL, Site 42.

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=654652



Honoree ID: 312986   Created by: MHOH

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