July 7, 1944: Harry D. Yoder Presented with Third Oak Leaf Cluster and Promoted


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

July 7, 1944: Harry D. Yoder, a 1934 Boyertown High School graduate from New Berlinville, has been presented with the Third Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal and promoted to the rank of Captain by his Commanding Officer of the Liberator Group.

Yoder received this award and promotion for “meritorious achievement” while participating in more than three dozen hazardous missions over North Africa, Italy and Germany as a B-24 bomber pilot, flying in the fiercest of circumstances, including raids on the Ploesti Oil fields in Romania and two missions on D-Day. The citation read, “The courage, coolness and skill displayed by this man upon these occasions reflect great credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States.”

His other awards included the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and five more oak leaves with the Air Medal. In 1945, Yoder flew the United States Secretary of War and the Peace Team to Japan for the official treaty signing, formally ending hostilities in the Pacific. These officials asked him to fly over the city of Hiroshima to see the devastation from the atomic bomb.

A career military man, he worked at the Pentagon after the war, serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He wrote a military strategy paper titled, “Logistics in Motion,” a battle supply plan using the newest C-5a Galaxy cargo plane to supply a Mid-East war.

Years later, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf used Yoder’s plan in the first Iraq war against Saddam Hussein. Yoder retired from the Air Force in 1969 after 30 years of service, the last ten as a colonel.

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