• Medal of Honor
B. Gen. Frederick Walker (F.W.) Castle, CMH
General Castle earned a Medal Of Honour posthumously for his actions while leading a 2,000-aircraft bomber formation over Europe on December 24, 1944. General Castle was born on October 14, 1908, in Manila, Philipines. After serving two years in the New Jersey National Guard, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. After graduating from the academy in June 1930, he was assigned to the Air Corps for flight training at March Field, California, and Kelly Field, Texas and completed his training in October 1931.
General Castle served as a pilot and Assistant Operations Officer with the 17th Pursuit Sqadron at Selfridge Field, Michigan, until February 1934 when he resigned and returned to civilian life, holding reserve status with the New York National Guard.
Reentering active service in January 1942, General Castle was one of eight officers selected to accompany Major General Ira Eaker to England to form the Eighth Air Force.
Promoted to Colonel, he took command of the 94th Bomb Group and in April 1944, he became the commanding officer of the 4th Combat Bomb Wing. He led many combat missions, including a mission to Refensburg and in November 1944 he was promoted to Brigadier General.
On December 24, 1944, on his 30th bombing mission, General Castle was killed while leading an air division of B-17's over Liege, Belgium. En route to the target, his plane lost an engine, forcing him to drop from the lead of the formation and his aircraft was then attacked by German fighters. Since he was flying over friendly troops on the ground, General Castle refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed. All of the crew, except General Castle and the pilot were able to escape before the plane exploded.
His Congressional Medal of Honour citation reads:
He was air commander and leader of more than 2,000 heavy bombers in a strike against German airfields on 24 December 1944. En route to the target, the failure of 1 engine forced him to relinquish his place at the head of the formation. In order not to endanger friendly troops on the ground below, he refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed maneuverability. His lagging, unescorted aircraft became the target of numerous enemy fighters which ripped the left wing with cannon shells. set the oxygen system afire, and wounded 2 members of the crew. Repeated attacks started fires in 2 engines, leaving the Flying Fortress in imminent danger of exploding. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the bail-out order was given. Without regard for his personal safety he gallantly remained alone at the controls to afford all other crewmembers an opportunity to escape. Still another attack exploded gasoline tanks in the right wing, and the bomber plunged earthward, carrying Gen. Castle to his death. His intrepidity and willing sacrifice of his life to save members of the crew were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.