William Howard Stovall

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William Howard Stovall
William Howard Stovall.jpg
Lieutenant William H. Stovall, 13th Aero Squadron, 1918
Nickname(s) Hank
Born 18 February 1895
Stovall, Mississippi, USA
Died 11 May 1970 (aged 75)
Stovall, Mississippi, USA
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Air Service, United States Army
Years of service 1917 - 1918; 1941 - 1945
Rank Lieutenant; later colonel
Unit 13th Aero Squadron
Battles/wars World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross,
Victory Medal with 3 battle clasps,
Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster,
Bronze Star,
European Theatre of Operations ribbon with 5 battle stars,
British Order of the British Empire,
French Legion d'Honneur and Croix de Guerre with Palm
Relations Father: William Howard Stovall; son: William Howard Stovall; wife: Eleanor; two other sons and a daughter
Other work Deputy Chief of Staff of U. S. Strategic Air Force during World War II

Lieutenant (later Colonel) William Howard Stovall (18 February 1895 - 11 May 1970) began his military career as a World War I flying ace credited with six aerial victories. He went on to become a successful businessman, as well as serving his country a second time in World War II. On the latter occasion, he served once again with fellow aerial combat veterans from World War I, Frank O'Driscoll Hunter and Carl Spaatz. He also suffered the loss of his namesake son in aerial battle.

Upon return from the war, Stovall won awards for his agricultural expertise. He died in his sleep at home, aged 75.


William Howard Stovall was born on his family's cotton plantation in Stovall, Mississippi[2] on 18 February 1895.[3] He was the son of Civil War Confederate colonel William Howard Stovall.[2] He graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1913, then attended Yale in 1916.[4]

He reported to the 13th Aero Squadron in July 1918. On 1 August, in company with Charles Biddle and two other American pilots, he shot down two German Albatros D.V fighters over Viéville-en-Haye. Then, from 15 September to 23 October 1918, he downed four of the new Fokker D.VII fighters. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.[4]

He returned to the plantation after the war. During World War II, he served once again, joining the U.S. Army Air Forces as a major on 12 December 1941. He became the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel for the Eighth Air Force in Britain under a World War I comrade, Brigadier General Frank O'Driscoll Hunter; the two of them worked for another World War I companion, General Carl Spaatz. Stovall's son, William Howard Stovall,[5] also served in the Army Air Forces; he saw his father in England during Christmas 1944 before the younger Stovall was killed in action while engaging 7 enemy aircraft over Bergsteinfurt, Germany. He had to bail out of his battle damaged plane after a 50 mile running combat and he was to low and his chute did not deploy all the way. He downed 2 of the 7 in combat. Colonel Stovall met the pilot who thought he had accidentally killed his son. Colonel Stovall proved otherwise when he developed gun camera film that showed the pilot had not fired long enough and that the deflection angle of his guns were not anywhere near his son's plane.[3]

From this war, Colonel Stovall brought home the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, British Order of the British Empire, French Legion d'Honneur and Croix de Guerre, as well as campaign ribbons.[4] Once again, he returned to the family cotton plantation. His stewardship of the land earned him the Delta Council Achievement Award for 1967-1968 as the pre-eminent conservationist among local farmers. He also served as president of Cotton Council International. The Federal Land Bank granted him a 50th anniversary medal for his contributions to the cause of American agriculture just prior to his death.[2]

He died at home in his sleep on 11 May 1970.[4] He was survived by his wife Eleanor, a daughter, and two sons.[2]

He was the inspiration for the Colonel Harvey Stovall character in the book and movie Twelve O'Clock High.

Citations for awards[edit]

Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to William Howard Stovall, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action in the region of Etain, France, September 26, 1918. While leading a protection patrol over a day bombing formation First Lieutenant Stovall's patrol became reduced through motor trouble to himself and one other pilot. When the bombing patrol was attacked by seven enemy planes he in turn attacked the enemy and destroyed one plane.[2][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Webster grandson of Col William H Stovall, source personal letters of Col Stovall
  2. ^ a b c d e Franks, Bailey 2001, pp. 73-74.
  3. ^ a b The Aerodrome website page on Stovall [1] Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Franks, Dempsey 2001, p. 76.
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ (General Orders No. 145, W.D., 1918) as quoted at http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/usa/stovall.php Retrieved on 26 June 2010.


External links[edit]