DSC for a WWII Airman

During a Feb. 2 ceremony at Barksdale AFB, La., Walter Holmes, a B-24 pilot with the 44th Bombardment Group during World War II, received a Distinguished Service Cross for his participation in low-level bombing raids on the Ploesti oil refinery. Although most of the Ploesti Raid pilots received DSCs after the mission, Holmes received a Silver Star, but a review by the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records upgraded the award just two days prior to Holmes 90th birthday. At the time of the Ploesti Raid, Holmes already had completed more than 25 combat missions, usually the point at which crew members were taken off the flying schedule, but he volunteered to substitute on a crew short of its pilot. Of the action, Holmes said: “There were a lot of fireworks that day, that was the first time we had ever seen 88 mm anti-aircraft cannons that close. … The fire would come out of those things 40 to 50 feet and we were at 25 feet.” (8th Air Force report by TSgt. Erick Reynolds; also read report in Shreveport Times; Air Force and for more on the Ploesti Raid, Air Force Magazine’s Valor: Into the Mouth of Hell)