Archive for the ‘Club Member Honors’ Category

McKinney veteran finally receives Distinguished Flying Cross medal

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
10:40 PM CDT on Thursday, August 27, 2009 

By MATTHEW HAAG / The Dallas Morning News

 Yeager, who flew 50 fighter missions in New Guinea in 1943, received the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is awarded to those who show heroism or great achievement while flying.

“It’s an honor to have people recognize what you’ve done in the past,” said the 88-year-old retired Air Force colonel, with the blue and red medal pinned to his sport-coat pocket.

Yeager received more than 10 decorations for his Air Force service, but the Distinguished Flying Cross award eluded him. He filed the paperwork for the award in 1943, months after he bailed out of a bullet-riddled P-38 Lightning and parachuted into the New Guinea jungle. But the paperwork got lost and the award never came.

So two years ago, Paul’s wife, Connie, contacted U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, and asked him to help. Even then, Connie Yeager said, she thought the award would never come.

But two weeks ago, a letter arrived from Johnson stating the military had verified Yeager’s Air Force service during World War II. He served in the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, between March and November 1943.

Johnson, who flew during the Vietnam War and was a prisoner of war for seven years, stood next to Yeager on Thursday morning and presented him the award. “I just wish you didn’t have to wait 66 years for this,” he told Yeager. “Fighting in war is hard, but I can only imagine that waiting 66 years is even harder.”

Yeager’s wife then pinned the medal on his jacket, next to his bright blue tie of a P-38.

Yeager said that one day he wants his medals and military records to be displayed somehow.

“When I die, I want it in an historical place,” Yeager said. “It’s important.”