Capt James W Wilkinson
Lost June 4, 1944 42-26256 MX-G
Tragedy marked the summer of 1944 when Capt. James W Wilkinson of
the 82nd was killed as his Thunderbolt crashed into a mountain in Wales.
The 31-year-old airman, who had broken his back in a flying accident only
a year earlier, went down two days before D-Day on a practice strafing
flight. A few weeks later his English widow was presented with his
Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star, second and third highest US
valour awards. The captain had earned the medals on two occasions
when, single-handedly, he had fought off and broken up entire squadrons
of enemy planes attacking US bombers.  
Distinguished Service Cross

Awarded posthumously for actions during the World War II
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of
Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished
Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Air Corps) James W.
Wilkinson (ASN: 0-885574), United States Army Air Forces, for
extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against
an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-47 Fighter Airplane in
the 82d Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force,
in aerial combat against enemy forces on 19 May 1944, during an
air mission in the European Theater of Operations. On this date
Captain Wilkinson, without regard to the almost insuperable odds
against him, led a flight of three fighters in an attack against thirty
or more enemy fighters forming to attack a friendly bomber
formation. Disregarding the danger of attack by even larger
numbers of enemy fighters approaching behind the first enemy
formation, Captain Wilkinson and his wingmen completely dispersed
the enemy flight. During this engagement, one of his wingman was
forced out of action, and Captain Wilkinson's plane was damaged
by enemy fire. Nevertheless he unhesitatingly flew into the second
flight of enemy fighters and broke up its attack against the
bombers. He and his remaining wingman then flew ahead of the
bombers and attacked a third enemy group of more than thirty
fighters forming for attack against the bombers. Although in this
action his other wingman was lost, Captain Wilkinson continued to
press straight through the enemy flight, shot down one plane, and
once more broke up a threat against the bombers. By his
extraordinary heroism and his determination to protect the bombers
at all costs, Captain Wilkinson rendered outstanding and valorous
service to our nation.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Strategic Forces in Europe,
General Orders No. 38 (June 25, 1944)
Action Date: 19-May-44
Service: Army Air Forces
Rank: Captain
Company: 82d Fighter Squadron
Regiment: 78th Fighter Group
Division: 8th Air Force