Donald J. Gott
|Donald J. Gott|
June 3, 1923|
|Died||November 9, 1944(aged 21)|
|Place of burial||Harmon Cemetery, Harmon, Oklahoma|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Years of service||1943 - 1944|
|Unit||729th Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bomb Group (Heavy)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Donald Joseph Gott  (June 3, 1923 – November 9, 1944) was a United States Army Air Forces officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.
Gott joined the Army from his birthplace of Arnett, Oklahoma in 1943, and by November 9, 1944 was a first lieutenant serving as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in the 729th Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bombardment Group. On that day, during a bombing mission over Saarbrücken, Germany, his plane was severely damaged and several of the crew wounded by enemy fire. Knowing that the most seriously injured crewman needed immediate medical aid, and fearing that he would not receive such aid if he was dropped by parachute into enemy territory, Gott and the co-pilot, William E. Metzger, Jr., decided to try to fly the crippled aircraft back into Allied territory. Once reaching friendly airspace, the two stayed behind with the seriously injured man while the other crewman parachuted to safety. Gott and his co-pilot attempted a crash landing, but the aircraft exploded before touching down, killing all three on board. For their actions, both Gott and Metzger were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on May 16, 1945.
Gott, aged 21 at his death, was buried in Harmon Cemetery, Harmon, Oklahoma.
Medal of Honor citation
First Lieutenant Gott's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
On a bombing run upon the marshaling yards at Saarbrücken a B-17 aircraft piloted by 1st. Lt. Gott was seriously damaged by antiaircraft fire. Three of the aircraft's engines were damaged beyond control and on fire; dangerous flames from the No. 4 engine were leaping back as far as the tail assembly. Flares in the cockpit were ignited and a fire raged therein, which was further increased by free-flowing fluid from damaged hydraulic lines. The interphone system was rendered useless. In addition to these serious mechanical difficulties the engineer was wounded in the leg and the radio operator's arm was severed below the elbow. Suffering from intense pain, despite the application of a tourniquet, the radio operator fell unconscious. Faced with the imminent explosion of his aircraft, and death to his entire crew, mere seconds before bombs away on the target, 1st. Lt. Gott and his copilot conferred. Something had to be done immediately to save the life of the wounded radio operator. The lack of a static line and the thought that his unconscious body striking the ground in unknown territory would not bring immediate medical attention forced a quick decision. 1st. Lt. Gott and his copilot decided to fly the flaming aircraft to friendly territory and then attempt to crash land. Bombs were released on the target and the crippled aircraft proceeded alone to Allied-controlled territory. When that had been reached, 1st. Lt. Gott had the copilot personally inform all crewmembers to bail out. The copilot chose to remain with 1st. Lt. Gott in order to assist in landing the bomber. With only one normally functioning engine, and with the danger of explosion much greater, the aircraft banked into an open field, and when it was at an altitude of 100 feet it exploded, crashed, exploded again and then disintegrated. All 3 crewmembers were instantly killed. 1st. Lt. Gott's loyalty to his crew, his determination to accomplish the task set forth to him, and his deed of knowingly performing what may have been his last service to his country was an example of valor at its highest.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.