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First Name: Maurice

Last Name: Henry

Birthplace: MO, USA

Gender: Male

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

Home of Record: Ravenwood, MO
Middle Name: V.

Date of Birth: 14 July 1913

Date of Death: 26 November 1943

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Years Served: 1942 - 1943
Maurice V. Henry

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Maurice V. Henry
Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces

On 26 November 1943, Technical Sergeant Maurice V. Henry was serving as a Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber in the 544th Bombardment Squadron, 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force.

On that day, TSGT Henry’s B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, S/N 42-5051 and nicknamed "Barrel House Bessie," was in action against German forces while participating in a bombing mission against targets at Bremen, Germany. While approaching the target on its bombing run, his aircraft suffered an engine failure in the 2 outboard engines and began to fall behind the formation. The crew jettisoned the bombs to lighten the load and intercept the formation, but one fully-armed bomb was hung up in the racks. Despite the extreme cold and while trying to evade the intense attacks by German fighters, TSGT Henry entered the open bomb bay and released the bomb. Almost simultaneously, the number 3 engine caught fire and the pilot decided to run for a cloud bank some distance away. At this point, from his top turret TSGT Henry destroyed 1 German plane and damaged another. The German fighter attacks increased in intensity and, despite the evasive actions of the pilot, the bomber sustained many damaging hits. The oxygen system was inoperable, the pilot's aileron control and the rudder controls of the pilot and co-pilot were destroyed, and the entire electrical system, including instruments and turret control, were unusable. An incendiary shell struck the left side of the cockpit, wounding the pilot and setting fire to the cockpit. Although ill and vomiting from the acrid smoke, TSGT Henry extinguished the fire. The cloud cover made it possible to evade the German fighters, but the plane was losing altitude. Due to the failure of the inter-communications system, TSGT Henry had to make several trips through the aircraft to convey the pilot's orders and to ensure the jettisoning of equipment to lighten the load. As the aircraft broke out of the clouds at 6000 feet over Emden, Germany, it was immediately engaged by heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire that inflicted more damage. However, the pilot's strong evasive action allowed the plane to escape to the sea.

The number 4 engine was now completely out and it was impossible to feather the propeller. The number 3 engine had been restarted, but was providing sporadic power. A short time later, the number 1 and 2 engines cut out and TSGT Henry gathered the crew in the radio compartment and prepared them for ditching. All the radio equipment was destroyed and it was impossible to transmit an SOS. Sighting a small boat on the sea, TSGT Henry located a Very pistol with flare to signal it. With no power, the pilot still managed to land in the North Sea in the general area of the surface vessel and the plane broke in two just aft of the radio compartment. TSGT Henry assisted the other crew members in leaving the aircraft, and he was the last person to abandon it. He further delayed his exit by searching for, and finding, the emergency radio, which he took with him into the icy water of the North Sea. Because of the battle damage to the life rafts, the heavy swell of the waves, and the shock of entering the extremely cold water, the crew members could do nothing to assist one another. Despite his valiant struggle, TSGT Henry, still grasping the emergency radio he considered vitally necessary for their rescue, was washed away and lost. TSGT Henry’s selfless, courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day made possible the rescue of 7 members of his crew, at the cost of his own life, and earned him the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

On 27 December 1943, TSGT Henry was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Colonel Dale O. Smith, Commanding Officer, 384th Bombardment Group (H). However, the heroic actions of TSGT Henry apparently did not meet the stringent criteria required for awarding the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross was awarded instead. That was then, and still is, a common occurrence.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Purple Heart
Air Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Star
World War II Victory Medal
Aerial Gunner Badge
Flight Engineer Badge

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Maurice V. Henry (37205337), Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as a Gunner on a B-17 Heavy Bomber in the 544th Bombardment Squadron, 384th Bombardment Group (H), EIGHTH Air Force, while participating in a bombing mission on 26 November 1943, against enemy targets in the European Theater of Operations. The personal courage and devotion to duty displayed by Technical Sergeant Henry on this occasion, at the cost of his life, have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 8th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces. Headquarters: U.S. Strategic Forces in Europe, General Orders No. 11 (1944)


The remains of Technical Sergeant Maurice V. Henry have never been recovered. He is memorialized by having his name inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial in Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England.


Honoree ID: 57548   Created by: MHOH




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