World War II transformed many men and boys from all across the U.S. into heroes. Most of these heroes were never properly recognized for their bravery and contributions. Others were formally recognized decades later. One such young man was Jerry Stannard, who flew the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt over Europe as part of the 48th Fighter Group. One day in September 1944, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. But he didn't receive it until 1993, almost 50 years later. Here's his story.
May 7, 2000
|About the Author ...
Howard Fried started flying with the Army Air Corps in WWII, where he
served both as a multi-engine instructor pilot and in combat piloting B-17s.
After a stint teaching sociology and on-the-air and management jobs in the
radio business after the war, he turned to teaching flying again full-time.
Over 40,000 general aviation hours later, he is still instructing
and running his own flight school. Along the way he administered over 4,000 flight tests
as a Designated Examiner until victimized by rogue FAA
He has authored two popular flying books aimed at student pilots and
instructors, Flight Test Tips and Tales and Beyond The Checkride, and a
series of audio tapes, Checkride Tips from
Flying's Eye Of The Examiner.
Jerome C. Stannard was one of the "quiet heroes" to survive the
second world war. He completed 76 combat missions flying the Jug (the Republic
P-47 Thunderbolt) in the U.S. Army Air Corps (predecessor to the United States
USAAC Cadet Stannard in 1943
When he returned home and separated from the Army like many
others he never talked about his accomplishments while in the service of his
country, even to his son, Sean. However, Sean did learn about the 76 missions
and also learned that his father had been awarded the Distinguished Flying
Cross, but had never received the medal itself, although he did have the
citation and the order awarding the medal.
By 1993 Jerry Stannard had retired from his position as a district manager
for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, was widowed and living in Port St.
Lucie, Fla. The second of his six sons, Dr. Sean Stannard, was a dentist living
in West Bloomfield, Mich. Without letting his father know that he was doing
so, Dr. Stannard embarked on a campaign to see that his father received the
medal to which he was entitled. This effort proved to be a monumental task.
After learning that many of the records had been destroyed in a fire at the
military records warehouse in St. Louis, Dr. Sean Stannard wrote to then-Senator
Connie Mack of Florida:
Sean P. Stannard, D.D.S.
4000 Highland Rd.
Waterford, MI 48328
(313) XXX XXXX
June 9, 1993
Connie Mack, Senator
1342 Colonial Blvd.
Fort Meyers, FL 33907
RE: Jerome C. Stannard, 0-665224,
Captain, AC, 48th Fighter Group
Dear Senator Mack and staff:
Please help our family. My father,
Jerome C. Stannard, is a WW II Air Force pilot who was awarded the
Distinguished Flying Cross as per the enclosed orders dated 11 Dec 1944.
Due to the large-scale operations at the war's end, my father left
military service without ever receiving his medal. My mother very much
wanted him to have this honor, yet she passed away recently.
I would like to follow up on this
for my mother, my father and all six of his sons. Your assistance in
this matter would mean so much to us, as we are unaware of any other
avenue to follow.
Please call me at my office number
listed above or my home telephone number is 313-XXX-XXXX if you have any
further questions. We can get my father to any destination to receive
his medal. At this time, my father is not aware that I am pursuing this
If you do need to contact my father
his telephone number is 407-XXX-XXXX and his address is XXX XXXXXXXX,
Port St. Lucie, FL.
Sean P. Stannard, D.D.S.
Enclosed with Sean's letter was the following item:
R E S T R I C T E D
NINTH AIR FORCE
APO 696, U..S.Army
11 December 1944
SECTION II AWARD OF THE
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
Jerome C. Stannard,
0-671794, Captain, AC, 48th Fighter Group. For extraordinary achievement
while participating in aerial flight against the enemy in the European
Theater of Operations on 13 September 1944. While leading a flight in a
group mission to bomb an important airfield in Germany, Capt. STANNARD
assumed leadership of the group when the two senior flight leaders were
forced to abandon the mission. Despite unfavorable weather conditions, the
expert navigational skill displayed by Capt. STANNARD led the group
directly to the target. In spite of the heavy anti-aircraft fire STANNARD
led the attack upon the target and inflicted great damage upon the ground
installations. The superior flying skill, courageous leadership, and
determination displayed by Capt. STANNARD contributed in large measure to
the success of the mission and reflect great credit upon himself and the
Army Air Forces.
This letter got the ball rolling, and after several miles of red tape, and
untold hours on the telephone, Sean finally wound up telling his story to a
civilian clerk in the Army Records Office. Even though he had copies of the
citation and order awarding the medal, he was informed that for the records to
be released authorization would have to come from the veteran himself. Sean
promptly wrote, "To whom it may concern, for the purpose of military award
verification, I authorize full access to my military records," and signed
his father's name.
Capt. Jerome C. Stannard, 1993
Sean asked if it would be possible to send the medal to him so he could
surprise his father, and the nice lady then told Sean that she could send the
medal anywhere she wanted to, and Sean requested that it be sent to his home
Jerome Stannard with his P-47
Next, after another series of phone calls, Sean finally was in direct contact
with Col. Thomas R. Brown, 927th Air Refueling Group commander at Selfridge Air
National Guard Base who was delighted to arrange an impressive award ceremony
for Sean's dad, and what a ceremony it was! Dr. Sean Stannard's policy had been
to try to get to the top in whatever agency his was dealing with, and it really
paid off in the case of Col. Brown.
Jerry gets his DFC from Col. Brown
After the ceremony at which the medal was awarded, Jerry and Sean were
invited to the Officer's Club to meet with present-day pilots for a question and
answer session. Sean had invited a group of family members to meet with Jerry
and him for dinner and this meeting was cancelled so that Sean and Jerry could
accept the Col's invitation to the "O Club." Then for several hours
Jerry regaled the pilots with stories of how things were and his experiences
during World War II.
All in all it was a very touching experience for both Jerome Stannard and his
son, Sean. After all these years Jerry finally received the medal that should
have been awarded to him way back in 1944, 49 years earlier. The Air Force
issued the following News Release regarding the event:
United States Air Force
927th Air Refueling Group, AFRES
Office of Public Affairs
43087 Lake Street
Selfridge ANGB, Mich 48045-5046
Release Number 93-15
September 25, 1993
WWII PILOT RECOGNIZED AFTER 49 YEARS
By Capt. Deborah L. Gill, USAFR 927th ARG Public Affairs
SELFRIDGE ANGB, MICH.- It took a while 49 years to be
exact but former Capt. Jerome C. Stannard finally received his official
recognition for extraordinary aerial flight achievement during World War
II. On Sept. 13, 1944, after two senior flight leaders were forced to
abandon the mission, Stannard piloted a P-47 Thunderbolt, braved heavy
anti-aircraft fire and led a successful group bombing mission over a
On Thanksgiving Day, 1944, the captain from the 48th
Fighter Group returned to the U.S., and in December, Army Air Forces
Headquarters 9th Air Force issued the general order to award him the
Distinguished Flying Cross. Stannard's September achievement was just one
of several exceptionally dangerous missions they considered recognizing.
Sean & Jerry Stannard, 1993
Upon return to the U. S., he served as a gunnery
instructor at Galveston, Texas, until he separated from the service in
September 1945, with 1,200 flying hours and 76 combat missions to his
credit. His duty fulfilled, he returned to Michigan where he later retired
from Michigan Bell Telephone Company after 37 years.
"With the moving, I didn't give much thought to
it," 76-year-old Stannard said, of those sons referring to previously
not receiving his award. And that's how it was left through the years, as
Stannard, now a resident of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and his wife, the former
Patricia Adeil Brady, raised six sons.
In 1992 one of those sons, Dr. Seam Stannard, a West
Bloomfield, Mich., resident, decided to see his father appropriately
recognized. After many inquiries and much persistence, the son's efforts
were rewarded. "The medal came in the same day my father returned to
Michigan," he said, regarding the perfect timing of his father's
visit. Stannard's son didn't stop there, though. Medal in hand, he
requested the assistance of the 927th Air Refueling Group at Selfridge
ANGB, Mich., to arrange a presentation ceremony.
Distinguished Flying Cross
On Sept. 22, the 927th ARG did just that. Col Thomas R.
Brown, 927th ARG commander, presented the award and long overdue official
recognition to Stannard during a ceremony to honor him.
Stannard said he was grateful to his son for his
initiative and pleased to receive the award after so many years. "I
didn't think I'd be nervous, but I guess I am, a bit," he said with
good humor. "On that particular mission, there were flack towers, and
it was like fireworks with everybody shooting at you," he said.
"We lost two men on the way back," Stannard said somberly,
referring to the casualties.
Talking about his P-47 aircraft, Stannard said,
"That's the reason I'm here I flew the P-47, a very stout
aircraft." "But when the plane lost an engine, its glide path
was zero," he said good naturedly.
"That was a time of extreme peril where the very
existence of the United States was on the line," the 927th ARG
commander said, thanking him for his service to the nation. "This
country of ours owes a great debt to Capt. Stannard and those who served
Former Capt. Jerome C. Stannard was, as you can well imagine, extremely moved
by what his son had don to gain him the recognition he so richly deserved.
Since the his father's death, Sean Stannard has kept the medal, and the
memories that accompany it.
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