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First Name: Maurice

Last Name: Ward

Birthplace: Kansas City, Jackson, MO, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Kansas City, MO
Middle Name: Andrew

Date of Birth: 21 November 1919

Date of Death: 05 June 1943 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 04 June 1942

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Years Served: 1941-1943

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Maurice Andrew Ward

Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps (Reserve)

Navy Cross & Purple Heart

Maurice was the son of Maurice Vernon and Mary Gladys (Murray) Ward who married on 11 Oct 1916 at St Johns Catholic Church, Kansas City, Wyandotte, KS. Maurice's siblings were William E., and Ellen Jane Ward. Maurice graduated from Northeastern High School in Kansas City, MO in June 1938. His high school classmates said, "Maurice is so quiet we never can see just what he is or is going to be." He went on to complete at least one year of study at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. While in college he pledged the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Maurice enlisted in the USMCR aviation program as a Private First Class on 20 Jan 1941 in Kansas City, MO. During the month of April 1941 PFC Ward was on active duty under instruction at the US Marine Corps Reserve Aviation Unit, Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Fairfax Airport, Kansas City, KS. After completing his elimination flight training he was designated an aviation cadet and classified as a student naval aviator (SNA). He transferred to the Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL where in July 1941 he was under flight instruction as an SNA. On 17 Oct 1941, Aviation Cadet Ward completed his training at NAS Pensacola and received his designation as a Naval Aviator. He transferred for additional training at NAS Miami, FL arriving on 20 Oct 1941.

He completed training at NAS Miami in Nov 1941. Prior to his transfer he took the oath of office and accepted the commission as a 2d Lt, USMCR. He transferred from NAS Miami on 28 Dec 1941 and reported on 10 Jan 1942 to Headquarters Squadron, 2d MAW at NAS San Diego. He was assigned squadron temporary additional duty for specialized aviation training beginning on 16 Jan 1942. On 30 Mar 1942, 2d Lt Ward embarked on the USAT Aquitania in San Francisco and sailed on that date steaming to Pearl Harbor where he disembarked on 04 April, and he reported to VMSB-231, MAG-23 at Ewa, Oahu, Hawaii. One week later, he embarked on the transport USS William Ward Burrows (AP-6) at Pearl Harbor with orders to report to Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron Two Hundred Forty One (VMSB-241). The Burrows departed Pearl Harbor on 12 April steaming to Midway Island.

He disembarked from the Burrows, and he reported to VMSB-241 on 17 April 1942. His duties in addition to being a naval aviator included assistant navigation officer. Initially, Lt Ward was assigned to fly the antiquated Vought SB2U Vindicator. His gunner was PFC Harry Morton Radford of Jasper, MO. After practicing with the Vought SB2U dive bomber into Mid-May, Lt Ward and PFC Radford were presented with the opportunity to fly the newer Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless dive bomber. The USS Kitty Hawk (AKV-1), a cargo ship and aircraft transport, arrived on 26 May and her cargo that included 19 new Douglas Dauntless SBD-2 dive bombers for VSMB-241.

They didn't have much time to acclimate to a different airplane because just nine days later on 04 Jun 1942 the enemy appeared. Early on that morning Lt Ward and his rear-seat gunner/radioman, PFC Harry Radford, took off from Naval Air Station Midway along with other elements of their squadron to find and attack the Japanese Striking Force. As their group, led by Major Lofton Henderson, spotted the enemy force, Japanese fighters also spotted them and quickly swarmed the American force. In short order, Lt Ward's Dauntless was falling in flames.

Their remains were unrecoverable. They were declared missing in action on 4 Jun 1942 and declared presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. His parents were notified by the Navy Department via telegram on 16 June 1942 that their son Maurice was missing in action.

Lt Ward was (posthumously) awarded the Navy Cross, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation w/ribbon, The American Campaign Medal, The American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze battle star and the World War II Victory Medal.


Navy Cross Citation reads:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Maurice Andrew Ward, Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE, Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO, Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. During the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Second Lieutenant Ward, in the face of withering fire from Japanese fighter guns and anti-aircraft batteries, dived his plane to a perilously low altitude before releasing his bomb. Since he failed to return to his base and is mission in action, there can be no doubt, under conditions attendant to the Battle of Midway, that he gave up his life in the defense of his country. His cool courage and conscientious devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Approved by the Secretary of the Navy on November 10, 1942


Marine Air Group 22 Presidential Unit Citation reads:

"For conspicuous courage and heroism in combat at Midway Island during June 1942. Outnumbered five to one, Marine Aircraft Group 22 boldly intercepted a heavily escorted enemy bombing force, disrupting their attack and preventing serious damage to island installations. Operating with half of their dive-bomber's obsolete and in poor mechanical conditions, which necessitated vulnerable glide bombing tactics, they succeeded in inflicting heavy damage on Japanese surface units of a large enemy task force. The skill and gallant perseverance of flight and ground personnel of Marine Aircraft Group 22, fighting under tremendously adverse and dangerous conditions were essential factors in the unyielding defense of Midway."


His family also received a commemoration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: In grateful memory of Maurice A. Ward, who died in the service of his country, SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED Naval Air Station, Midway Island, 5 JUNE 1943 (Presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

(Signed) Franklin D. Roosevelt

President of the United States of America


Combat Action Ribbon (CR) note:

None of the Navy/Marine flight crews in the Battle of Midway were eligible for or were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon (CR). See Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (SECNAVINST M-1650.1 of 16 Aug 2019, Appendix 2C.1.c (3) Amplifying Guidance). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded in connection with aerial flight, . . . “ The CR was established in 1969 and made retroactive to 07 Dec 1941. According to the Awards Manual, when deemed appropriate, the award for aerial combat is the Air Medal.


[Bio #217 composed by Gerry Lawton (GML470)]

Honoree ID: 104014   Created by: MHOH




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