WWII Medal of Honor recipient dies at 88

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    March 23, 2007

    BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine --Jay Zeamer Jr., a World War II bomber pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor for fighting off enemy attacks during a photographic mapping mission in which he suffered wounds that caused him to lose consciousness, died Thursday at a nursing home. He was 88.
    Zeamer, a major in the Army Air Corps, also earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars and two Air Medals for his service in the South Pacific.

    A native of Carlisle, Pa., Zeamer grew up in Orange, N.J., and spent most of his summers in Boothbay Harbor, rowing his homemade boat across the harbor. He studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering.

    Zeamer, who enrolled in the Army ROTC program at MIT, was awarded the nation's highest military honor for his actions on June 16, 1943, after volunteering for the mapping mission over an area near Buka in the Solomon Islands that was well-defended by the Japanese.

    While photographing the Buka airdrome, Zeamer's crew spotted about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off. But Zeamer continued with the mapping run, even after an enemy attack in which he sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs that left one leg broken.

    Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so that his gunners could fend off the attack during a 40-minute fight in which at least five enemy planes were destroyed, one by Zeamer and four by his crew.

    "Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away," according to the citation posted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

    He had been listed by the society as one of 36 living Medal of Honor recipients from World War II.

    Zeamer's wounded bombardier, 2nd Lt. Joseph Sarnoski Jr. of Simpson, Pa., who shot down two of the planes and kept on firing until he collapsed on his guns, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

    Zeamer's wife, Barbara, said her husband rarely talked about his experience during the war.

    "His daughters never knew he'd won the Medal of Honor until they were in junior high school," she said. "I think he didn't feel he deserved it. He was so close to his bombardier and he felt terrible about his being killed."

    Gov. John Baldacci directed that flags in Maine be flown at half staff Monday, the day of Zeamer's funeral.

    "Jay Zeamer was a hero in every sense of the word," Baldacci said. "He will be remembered for his great contributions to Maine and to this country for his service during World War II, and he will also be remembered by his community as someone who had the greatest heart and spirit."

    After the war, Zeamer worked at Pratt Whitney in Hartford, Conn., before moving on to Hughes Aircraft in Los Angeles and then Raytheon in Bedford, Mass. He retired in 1968 to his beloved Boothbay Harbor, where he bought a skiff and oars and rowed around the harbor.

    In addition to his wife, Zeamer is survived by their five daughters: Marcia Zeamer of Medford, Mass., Jacque Zeamer Damon of Eliot, Jayne Zeamer of Winchester, Mass., Susan Zeamer of Falmouth and Sandra Neubert of Easton, Conn.

    A celebration of Zeamer's life will be held Monday at American Legion Post 36 in Boothbay Harbor with burial at Arlington National

     
  2. Bf109_g

    Bf109_g Member

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  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    I read about him in Martin Cadin's book on the B17. Also in other places. He was definitely a guy who marched to his own drummer.

    RIP.
     
  5. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Read about him as well.... As Tim said, he marched to his own beat...
     
  6. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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  7. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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  8. Jared

    Jared Member

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    salute Thanks for your efforts mate.
     
  9. R-2800

    R-2800 Member

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  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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