Navy Memorabilia

Harner, Wilson W.

Rank: Aviation Ordnanceman, 2nd Class
Serial Number: 8270497
Military Branch: VPB-119
Origin: Indiana
Date of Death: 1945-4-11
Manila American Cemetery
Featured: No

This is a great medal group to AOM2c Wilson W. Harner. It consists of AOM2c Harner's Air Medal for action on March 12,and 24, 1945. Also included is his officially engraved Type 3 posthumous Purple Heart, Asiatic medal, posthumous un-dated Good Conduct medal, Air Crew wings and a Navy patch for his rank. Due to his rank, Harner could have been a turret gunner or bombardier.

Harner was a member of the crew of the 4 engine PB4Y-2 Privateer, which carried a crew of 12. That plane was piloted by Lt(jg) Aubry L. Althans. The book by Alan Carey "PB4Y-2 Privateer" describes the incident that led to Harner's first Air Medal as follows: "Lieutenant (jg) Aubry L. Althans overtook a Nakajima B6N2 Tenzan bomber nicknamed Jill flying at 1,000 feet, and after his gunners expended 1,200 rounds of ammunition, the enemy plane spun into the water and exploded." Copies of Harner's 3 air medal award cards are part of this group. The first Air Medal citation states "For meritorious action while participating in aerial flight. On 12 March 1945, Aviation Ordnanceman Wilson W. Harner, while a member of a regular combat flight crew of a Navy Privateer, engaged  in an armed search mission over enemy waters, contributed to the destruction of an enemy torpedo plane. His skill, courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with highest traditions of the United States Naval Service" All of Harner's awards were posthumous.

Harner's second Air Medal citation reads as above, except was for action on 24 March 1945 when an "enemy reconnaissance plane" was destroyed.

Harner's third Air Medal award states "For Meritorious actions while participating in aerial flight. During the period from 4 March 1945 to 5 April 1945 Aviation Ordnanceman Senond Class Harner, Wilson W. participated in five (5) flights in an active combat area where enemy anti-aircraft fire was expected to be effective and enemy aircraft patrols usually occur."

The VPB-119 Privateer that he died in was Bu. No. 59414, piloted by Lt(jg) Aubry L. Althans. The casualty report for the plane states "On 11 April 1945, Lt(jg) A. L. Althans, USNR, 251106, flying PB4Y-2 Bu. No. 59414, failed to return from routine search of the Formosa Straits area. No word of his fate has been received." The crew remained MIA until a year and a day later when they were all declared dead.

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