Original U.S. WWII Army Air Force Grouping of DFC Recipient 1st Lt Carl Wiles - 717th Bomb Squadron - Two Engraved Air Medals
Original Items: Only One Grouping Available. This is a lovely grouping attributed to 1st Lieutenant Carl W. Wiles, a pilot who served with the 717th Bombardment Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group. Wiles was a B-24 pilot during WWII who received multiple Air Medals and a Distinguished Flying Cross for actions during a mission against an important and strategic enemy installation in Austria.
The 449th Bomb Group was composed of four Squadrons — the 716th, 717th, 718th, and 719th. The 449th was activated on 1 May 1943 at Davis-Monthan Field near Tucson, Arizona. The first morning report was issued on 27 May 1943. The strength of the Group on that date was listed as 52 officers and 33 enlisted men. Over the next 7 months the Group steadily increased to full strength as the training program progressed. On 1 July 1943 the Group was moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico. On 6 September 1943 the Group was again relocated, this time to Bruning Field, Nebraska. The move to Bruning was completed on 18 September 1943. At that time the 449th consisted of a total complement of 184 officers and 1,203 enlisted men.
At Bruning the 449th was equipped with some 62 B-24 aircraft. Each aircraft required a crew of 10 men. By December 1943, training was complete and the 449th was ordered overseas to the European theater. Each crew flew its aircraft overseas by a route which took them to southern Florida, then to Puerto Rico and thence to Brazil. The Atlantic crossing was made from Brazil to Dakar, Africa. From Dakar the planes flew north to Tunis by way of Marrakech. From Tunis they flew to their forward operating base at Grottaglie Field near Taranto, Italy.
The 449th operated from Grottaglie from January 1944 until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. From Grottaglie, the 449th flew a total of 254 combat missions against targets in central and eastern Europe.
The Items Featured In This Grouping:
- Distinguished Flying Cross WITH ORIGINAL Citation: The DFC itself is not engraved or numbered but is original to the grouping. Both the medal and the citation are in a slightly worn state but still beautiful and fully legible.
CARL W. WILES, 0-691073, First Lieutenant, Air Corps, 717th Bombardment Squadron, 449th Bombardment Group, United States Army. For extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as pilot of a B-24 type aircraft. On 29 May 1944, while participating in a mission against a highly important and strategic enemy installations in Austria, severe enemy opposition by fighter and anti-aircraft fire caused severe damage to his aircraft. Through superb airmanship and courageous leadership, Lieutenant Wiles continued through to the objective, aiding materially in the tremendous damage inflicted on the assigned target. Despite continued savage resistance by the enemy after leaving the target area, Lieutenant Wiles, through his courage and decisive action, made possible the safe return of his plane and crew. By his combat efficiency and devotion to duty, as evidenced throughout over fifty (50) combat missions, Lieutenant Wiles has reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Residence at appointment: Rochester, New York.
Other Items Include:
- x13 Uniform Patches and insignia: Insignia includes 4 Army Air Forces roundels, bullion 15th Air Force insignia, 2 Fifteenth AF patches and a “Ruptured Duck”, lapel device and US collar device.
- Pilot Logs, Flight Logs, Certifications and ID Cards
- Cimier Swiss Made Watch: The watch is in original configuration and still functions.
- Documents: The documents consist of original and copies. Documents include various official military orders and reports, enlistment records, discharge papers and certificates, checklists and many more.
- 2 Name Engrqved Air Medals: Both Air Medals are engraved with C.W. WILES and in great condition. One set is complete and has the original presentation case.
- Uniforms and Covers: This is a tricky pile of uniforms. As with most encountered military uniforms you will always find multiple names, laundry numbers and service numbers written in them, in this case it’s all a single name, JG Decker. The uniforms are all identical to the ones that would have been worn by Wiles including rank and awards. These very well could have been his and he just never wrote his name in them, but we cannot confirm this. It is our belief however that these did belong to Wiles due to them being original to the grouping when we obtained it. The items include both summer weight and Winter Class A jackets, trousers, garrison caps, ties and more. All uniform items are in wonderful condition and display wonderfully alongside the rest of the grouping.
A stunning grouping that comes more than ready for further research and display.
Fifteenth Air Force
Fifteenth Air Force (15th AF) was established on 1 November 1943 in Tunis, Tunisia as part of the United States Army Air Forces in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations as a strategic air force. It commenced combat operations the day after it was formed. The first commander was General Jimmy Doolittle.
15th AF resulted from a reorganization of Doolittle's Twelfth Air Force into the 15th with Doolittle in command, and the Ninth Air Force (9th AF) with Lewis H. Brereton in command. The new air force was activated with a strength of ninety B-24 Liberators and 210 B-17 Flying Fortresses, inherited from the Twelfth Air Force and Ninth Air Force. In December, new groups, most of which were equipped with B-24s soon started arriving from the United States. 13 new groups were added.
It was hoped that the 15th AF – stationed in the Mediterranean – would be able to operate when the Eighth Air Force (8th AF) in England was socked in by bad English weather. The 9th AF would later move to England to serve as a tactical unit to take part in the invasion of Europe. Once bases around Foggia in Italy became available, the 15th was able to reach targets in southern France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans, some of which were difficult to reach from England.
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