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 Rev. 04/17/03 

The 315th Troop Carrier Group ~

A Decorated Unit

As with many units of the United States Armed Forces during World War II, the 315th Troop Carrier distinguished itself on many occasions. Following is a summary of the decorations and citations the Group, the four Squadrons, and individual members received for their contribution in securing our nation and the world.

 

Presidential Unit Citation.  (history of award of the Presidential Unit Citation to the 315th TCG forthcoming)

 

 

 

Outstanding Unit Citation. For its outstanding performance during the Normandy Invasion, the 315th TCG was awarded the Outstanding Unit Citation. The citation reads:

"Under the provisions of Section IV, Circular No. 333, War Department, 1943, the following units of the IX Troop Carrier Command are cited for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy: For outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy on the night of 5-6 June 1944. Members of Group Headquarters and of the 34th, 43rd, 309th, and 310th Troop Carrier Squadrons of the 315th Troop Carrier Group performed 48 sorties in the mass Troop Carrier vanguard of the invasion of the European continent. Despite alerted enemy defenses, intense anti-aircraft fire and the extreme hazards of low altitude flying in adverse weather conditions and over water, members of this group flew their aircraft a t minimum air speeds and dropped their paratrooops over vital zones with great precision. The officers and enlisted men of the 315th Troop Carrier Group made an immeasurable contribution to the decisive and crippling blow struck at our enemies, and their fine teamwork and zealous endeavor were in the highest tradition of the military forces on the United States. By Command of Major General Vandenberg [Commander, 9th Air Force]."

 

World War II Victory Medal. (Exact text of 'citation to accompany the award of ... forthcoming)

The World War II Victory Medal is cast in bronze. On the front face is the raised image of the standing Goddess of Victory looking to her right, holding a cross in her right hand and a scroll in her left, her helmet at her feet. Behind her is a rising sun. The word ''WORLD' in raised letters in on her right and the word 'WAR II' in raised letters is to her left. On the reverse face is a raised single laurel of victory placed horizontally. Above the laurel in raised letters are the words 'FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND WANT' and below are the words 'FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION'. The words 'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - 1941 - 1945' surround the face in raised letters. The ribbon colors are (L to R) purple, green, blue, blending stripes yellow-orange-red-orange-yellow, green, blue, purple, white, red, white, purple, blue, green, blending stripes yellow-orange-red-orange-yellow , green blue, purple.

 

European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. (Exact text of 'citation to accompany the award of ...' forthcoming)

 The European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal is cast in bronze. On the front face is a raised image of infantrymen in the foreground and an LST amphibious assault ship in the background with the words EUROPEAN AFRICAN MIDDLE EASTERN CAMPAIGN in raised letters at the top. On the reverse face (identical to the American Campaign Medal) is the raised image of a standing eagle with wings folded, looking to his right; to its lower left are the numbers '1941' and '1945' in raised numerals and to its upper right are the words 'UNITED STATES of AMERICA' in raised letters. The ribbon colors are (L to R) brown, green, white, red, green, black, white, red, green, white, black, white, and brown.

 

American Campaign. (Exact text of 'citation to accompany the award of ...' forthcoming)

The American Campaign Medal is cast in bronze. On the front face is a raised image of an airplane, ship and submarine and the words 'AMERICAN CAMPAIGN' in raised letters around the top. On the reverse face is the raised image of a standing eagle with wings folded, looking left; to its lower left are the numbers '1941' and '1945' in raised numerals and to its upper right are the words 'UNITED STATES of AMERICA' in raised letters. The ribbon colors (from left to right) are sky blue, white, black, red, white, sky blue, black, white, red, sky blue, white, red, black, white, and sky blue.

 

American Defense Medal. (Exact text of 'citation to accompany the award of ...' forthcoming)

The American Defense Medal is cast in bronze. On the front face is the raised image of the Goddess of Victory, wearing her helmet and facing to her left. Her right arm is raised with sword in hand. On her left arm is her shield. She is standing on the limb of a tree, posed to do battle. Around the top are the words 'AMERICAN DEFENSE' in raised letters. On the reverse face in raised letters are the words 'FOR SERVICE DURING THE LIMITED EMERGENCY PROCLAIMED BY THE PRESIDENT ON SEPTEMBER 8 1939 OR DURING THE UNLIMITED EMERGENCY PROCLAIMED BY THE PRESIDENT ON MAY 27 1941'. Below lies a single laurel of victory. The ribbon colors are (L to R) yellow, dark blue, white, red, yellow, red, white, dark blue, and yellow.

 

Distinguished Flying Cross. (Exact text of 'citation to accompany the award of ...' forthcoming.)

The Distinguished Flying Cross is cast in bronze and is in the shape of a Maltese cross. Beams of light radiate from behind the cross. A four-bladed propeller is superimposed on the cross. The reverse face is blank. The medal is uniquely attached to the ribbon by a square bar. The ribbon colors are (L to R) blue, white, blue, white, red, white, blue, white, and blue.

 

Air Medal. Many men and women of the 315th TCG received this decoration Following are extracts from the General Orders for specific awards.

General Order 41, HQ IX Troop Carrier Command, "By direction of the President . . . the following named officers and enlisted men [list forthcoming] of the 315th Troop Carrier Group are awarded the Air Medal in recognition of meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flights in the European Theater of Operations during the period 18 March 1944 to 1 July 1944. As Troop Carrier combat crew members, these individuals meritoriously climaxed a most successful program of intensive, specialized training and joint maneuvers with airborne units in aerial flights by their superb performance in vital sorties flown during the initial Troop Carrier phases of the invasion of the European continent. The magnificent spirit and enthusiasm displayed by these individuals, combined with skill, courage, and devotion to duty is reflected in their brilliant operation of unarmed

 

The Air Medal is cast in bronze in the shape of a multi-pointed star superimposed on the star is the raised image of an eagle, swooping down to the left, grasping lighting bolts in each talon. The reverse face is blank. Ribbon colors are (L to R) blue, orange, blue, orange, and blue.

and unarmored Troop Carrier aircraft at minimum altitudes and air speeds, in unfavorable weather conditions, with no possibility of employing evasive actin, to spearhead the Allied invasion of the continent and the support Air and Ground forces in the critical period which followed. Their respective duty assignments were performed in such an admirable manner as to produce exceptional results in the greatest and most successful airborne operations in the history of world aviation."

 

Polish Cross of Valor

The Polish Cross of Valor (Krzyz Walecznych) shown here was awarded to Lt.Col. Henry G. Hamby, Jr., Commander, 310th Troop Carrier Squadron, for leading the serial carrying the 1st Polish Independent Airborne Brigade into Nijmegen during Operation Market Garden, September 21, 1944. Although this is a high decoration awarded by the Government of Poland, it must be worn at the bottom of order on U.S. uniforms as it is a foreign decoration.

The award was Instituted by decree of the State Defense Council of August 11, 1920, during the Polish-Soviet war; revived in 1940 and in the People's Army in the East in 1943 and 1944 respectively. Revived again by the Act of October 16, 1992, it can be awarded for acts of valor while serving with UN peacekeeping missions. The cross is equivalent to the American Silver Star, French Croix de Guerre or German Iron Cross.  It is conferred in a single class to members of the Polish Armed Forces for acts of valor in the battlefield. In exceptional cases it can be granted to allied soldiers and civilians. The cross can be conferred up to four times, yet the awards in WW2 were counted independently from those of 1920.

The Polish Cross of Valor is cast in bronze in the shape of a Maltese cross (43 x 43 mm). On the front face is the raised image of a sword pointing vertically with a victory wreath around the middle of the blade. The arms of the cross bear the motto ~ NA : POLU : CHWALY : 1920. (“on the field of glory, 1920”).

On the vertical arms of the reverse is a sword pointed upwards and piercing a laurel wreath in the middle; The words "WALE CZNYM" .(“to the valorous”) appear  horizontally in raised letters and split as indicated on either side of the sword. There exist copies with the year 1939 or 1940 instead of 1920; the crosses bestowed in People's Poland have the year 1943 (rare) or 1944.

The ribbon is 35-37 mm, claret with broad white side stripes; those conferred by the Government in Exile during WW2 (as depicted here) have the colors reversed - white with claret stripes; awards in the People's Republic - 40 mm, dark crimson with white stripes. Each subsequent award is denoted by a bronze bar with oak leaves on the ribbon; in People's Poland each award was worn as a separate badge .

Note: Crosses awarded to the soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces interned in Switzerland for the French campaign of 1940 were dated 1940 instead of 1920 (the original items are rare). The unnumbered crosses are supposed to be the early ones, conferred for the battle of Warsaw of 1920.