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First Name: Harold

Last Name: Bauer

Birthplace: Woodruff, KS, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Annapolis, MD
Middle Name: William

Date of Birth: 20 November 1908

Date of Death: 14 November 1942 (Presumed)

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served: 1930-1942
Harold William Bauer
'Indian Joe, Coach'

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1930

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Harold William Bauer
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Lieutenant Colonel Harold William Bauer (20 November 1908 - 14 November 1942) was a U.S. Marine aviator who shot down 11 Japanese planes during World War II and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as a fighter squadron commander during the crucial struggle for the control of the Solomons at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Harold William Bauer was born in Woodruff, KS, on 20 November 1908 and grew up in North Platte, NE. He was the son of Volga German immigrants and had two brothers and two sisters. In high school he played football, track and baseball.

Military Career

He entered the Naval Academy in 1926 and was appointed a Marine Second Lieutenant upon graduation in 1930. Bauer's two younger brothers also followed him into the Academy.

Following his commissioning, 2ndLt Bauer attended the Officers Basic School at Quantico, VA. He was then assigned as a company officer with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines at Quantico.

In 1932 he became assistant basketball and lacrosse coach at the Naval Academy and an instructor in marksmanship, until his assignment to the San Diego Naval Base where he was the Assistant Range Officer. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 29 May 1934.

He was then assigned to the Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, in December 1934 where he earned his wings as a Marine aviator in February 1936. He was promoted to Captain on 30 June 1937 and served with several squadrons at Quantico, including Marine Scouting Squadron 1 (VMS-1) and Marine Fighting Squadron 1 (VMF-1).

Bauer was transferred to the Naval Air Station San Diego, CA, in June 1940 where he served as executive officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 221 (VMF-221). While stationed at San Diego, he participated in carrier group exercises on the USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Saratoga (CV-3). The 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor found Bauer and VMF-221 preparing to embark aboard the Saratoga for transport to Hawaii.

World War II

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Bauer and VMF-221 were transported to Hawaii and were slated to reinforce Wake Island, but were diverted to Midway after Wake fell. Transferred to Hawaii in February 1942, Bauer took command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Eleven stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa and on 1 March 1942 commissioned and took command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Twelve (VMF-212). Promoted to Major on 29 April 1942, Bauer and VMF-212 were deployed to the South Pacific and were stationed at New Caledonia, and later Efate. Although still the commanding officer of VMF-212, Bauer was responsible for the operation of the airfield from which the squadron operated. He was also directed to select possible sites for additional airfields in the South Pacific. Bauer's promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, after only three months as a Major, was effective on 7 August 1942.

On 28 September 1942, LtCol Bauer performed the first feat cited for the Medal of Honor. His squadron was attacked by a superior force of Japanese planes on that day. He engaged the enemy and shot down one of their bombers. Again attacking a superior force on 3 October, he shot down four of the enemy and left a fifth badly damaged.

While leading a reinforcement flight on 16 October from Espirito Santo to Guadalcanal, 600 miles away, LtCol Bauer was about to land at Henderson Field when he noticed a squadron of Japanese planes attacking the USS McFarland (DD-237) off shore. Though the long flight from Espirito Santo had almost exhausted his fuel and he knew no friendly planes were able to assist him, he immediately proceeded alone to attack the enemy and succeeded in destroying four of them before lack of gasoline forced him to return to Henderson Field.

On 14 November, he was forced to ditch his plane over water after downing two of the enemy in an attack 100 miles off Guadalcanal. He was last seen in the water in his Mae West (a water flotation device) and did not appear to be seriously hurt. Days of intense searching by planes and Russell Island natives failed to locate any further trace of him.

The squadron under his command at Guadalcanal was officially credited with downing 92 Japanese planes and helping to sink two destroyers. LtCol Bauer was commended for his action in the South Pacific by commanders of Army, Navy and Marine Corps units including Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., then Commander of the South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps.

Place and date: Guadalcanal, 10 May to 14 November 1942.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage as Squadron Commander of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 in the South Pacific Area during the period 10 May to 14 November 1942. Volunteering to pilot a fighter plane in defense of our positions on Guadalcanal, Lt. Col. Bauer participated in 2 air battles against enemy bombers and fighters outnumbering our force more than 2 to 1, boldly engaged the enemy and destroyed 1 Japanese bomber in the engagement of 28 September and shot down 4 enemy fighter planes in flames on 3 October, leaving a fifth smoking badly. After successfully leading 26 planes on an over-water ferry flight of more than 600 miles on 16 October, Lt. Col. Bauer, while circling to land, sighted a squadron of enemy planes attacking the U.S.S. McFarland. Undaunted by the formidable opposition and with valor above and beyond the call of duty, he engaged the entire squadron and, although alone and his fuel supply nearly exhausted, fought his plane so brilliantly that 4 of the Japanese planes were destroyed before he was forced down by lack of fuel. His intrepid fighting spirit and distinctive ability as a leader and an airman, exemplified in his splendid record of combat achievement, were vital factors in the successful operations in the South Pacific Area.

Medal and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Letter of Commendation Ribbon
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
American Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 1 Service Star
World War II Victory Medal

Death and Memorial

Lieutenant Colonel Harold William Bauer was lost at sea on 14 November 1942 and his body was never recovered. A cenotaph for him is located at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Manila City, Philippines.

Honoree ID: 1281   Created by: MHOH




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