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First Name: Walter

Last Name: Truemper

Birthplace: Aurora, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces (1941 - 1947)

Home of Record: Aurora, IL
Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 31 October 1918

Date of Death: 20 February 1944

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Years Served: 1942-1944
Walter Edward Truemper

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Walter Edward Truemper

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Force

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Second Lieutenant Walter Edward Truemper (31 October 1918 - 20 February 1944) was a U.S. Army Air Forces officer who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Walter Edward Truemper was born on 31 October 1918, in Aurora, IL. He was one of 10 children. He attended business college and worked as an accounting clerk before enlisting in the U.S. Army from Aurora on 23 June 1942. He served for a few months with the 174th Field Artillery at Camp Bowie, TX, until he entered flying training. He took pre-flight training at Ellington Field, TX; flexible gunnery at Harlingen, TX; and advanced navigation at Hondo, TX. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Corps on 26 August 1943. He served with the 796th Bomb Squadron at Alexandria, LA, until being sent to the Eighth Air Force as a replacement aircrew member in December 1943. He was assigned to the 510th Bomb Squadron, 351st Bombardment Group, based at RAF Polebrook in England.

On 20 February 1944, Truemper took part in a bombing mission over Leipzig, Germany, as a navigator aboard a B-17G Flying Fortress nicknamed Ten Horsepower (42-31763, markings TU:A). During the mission, the aircraft was attacked by a squadron of German fighter planes. The attack left the bomber severely damaged, the co-pilot dead, the pilot unconscious, and the radio operator wounded. The remaining crewmen were able to fly the plane back to RAF Polebrook, at which point Truemper and the flight engineer, Sergeant Archibald Mathies, volunteered to stay aboard while the others parachuted to safety. After observing the aircraft, their commanding officer determined that it was too badly damaged for the two inexperienced men to land and ordered them to bail out as well. But the pilot was still alive and could not be moved and Truemper and Mathies refused to leave him behind. They made two unsuccessful landing attempts before crashing on their third try, killing all three airmen. For this action, both Truemper and Mathies were awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 510th Bomber Squadron, 351st Bomber Group.

Place and date: Over Europe, 20 February 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy in connection with a bombing mission over enemy-occupied Europe on 20 February 1944. The aircraft on which 2d Lt. Truemper was serving as navigator was attacked by a squadron of enemy fighters with the result that the copilot was killed outright, the pilot wounded and rendered unconscious, the radio operator wounded and the plane severely damaged Nevertheless, 2d Lt. Truemper and other members of the crew managed to right the plane and fly it back to their home station, where they contacted the control tower and reported the situation. 2d Lt. Truemper and the engineer volunteered to attempt to land the plane. Other members of the crew were ordered to jump, leaving 2d Lt. Truemper and the engineer aboard. After observing the distressed aircraft from another plane, 2d Lt. Truemper's commanding officer decided the damaged plane could not be landed by the inexperienced crew and ordered them to abandon it and parachute to safety. Demonstrating unsurpassed courage and heroism, 2d Lt. Truemper and the engineer replied that the pilot was still alive but could not be moved and that they would not desert him. They were then told to attempt a landing. After 2 unsuccessful efforts their plane crashed into an open field in a third attempt to land. 2d Lt. Truemper, the engineer, and the wounded pilot were killed.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart


Two streets have been named in Truemper's honor, one at Lackland Air Force Base, TX, and the other at Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK.

Death and Burial

Second Lieutenant Walter Edward Truemper was killed in action on 20 February 1944. He is buried at Saint Paul's Lutheran Cemetery in Montgomery, IL.

Honoree ID: 1678   Created by: MHOH




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