A bomber pilot held as a prisoner of war during World War II visited the Air Reserve Personnel Center to receive his POW Medal among various other medals, then took time to personally meet and thank the members on the recognition service team who assisted him April 17, 2015.
The request for former 1st Lt. Clayton A. Nattier’s medals came to ARPC in December 2014. Nattier worked in conjunction with retired Lt. Col. Kathryn Wirkus, a constituent service representative, from U.S. representative Ed Perlmutter’s staff to attain his POW Medal. Wirkus accompanied Nattier to ARPC to meet the professionals who helped.
When he arrived to meet the team, he thanked retired Brig. Gen. Pat Quisenberry, evaluations branch chief, Jacqueline Bing, sustainment division chief, Master Sgt. Jeremy Bohn, pre-trained individual manpower division chief, and Master Sgt. Richard Grybos, NCO in charge of training and development.
“It feels wonderful to receive these medals,” said Nattier. “I’d especially like to thank you folks and Ms. Wirkus for making sure all the records got to where they needed to go.”
Bing said it was an honor for the recognition team to provide the customer support to Nattier.
“I’m proud of the efforts from our two top senior NCOs, Master Sgts. Bohn and Grybos, who made it possible for him to finally have the actual medals and awards that he so deserves. I know he went through a lot for our freedom – he is a hero,” she said.
Bohn said what it meant to him to have assisted Nattier during his request.
“It was an honor to meet Mr. Nattier and listen to some of his stories,” Bohn said. “I am so thankful that we were able to provide him his awards and decorations, and to see the look of excitement on his face,”
Nattier entered the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942 and was assigned to the 306th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, at Thurleigh, England, when his crew of 10 Airmen was selected to participate in a raid over Merseburg, Germany, Sept. 13, 1944. As he piloted a B-17G Flying Fortress bomber in sustained combat operations, the aircraft was hit by enemy flak over Ammendorf, Germany.
Nattier, who called for the crew to bail out, survived with third-degree burns to his face, neck and arms. He lost seven crew members on the mission and was later captured by waiting German forces who imprisoned him in a POW camp known as Stalag 1 until May 12, 1945.
Col. Pat Hayes, ARPC Total Force Service Center director, thanked Nattier for his service.
“We want to thank you and your generation for giving us the freedom that we enjoy. You will never be forgotten,” Hayes said.
A formal presentation with Rep. Perlmutter to award the POW Medal to Nattier is currently being planned.
The medals Nattier received were: Purple Heart Medal, Air Medal with 2 bronze oak leaf clusters, POW Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.
- 2Lt. William D. Whittaker, B-17 bombardier-navigator in 398th Bomb group, talks about he parachuted into a POW camp.
- 2Lt. John R. Pedevillano, U.S. Army Air Corps World War II veteran and Prisoner of War, was the youngest B-17 bombardier in the 306th Bomb Group.
- “Shot Down” Book Review, our review on this book about B-17 “Susan Ruth” of the 306th Bomb Group.
- Interview with Steve Snyder, Author of “Shot Down”.
- Snyder, Steve: SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth(Hardcover). Sea Breeze Publishing.
- Westgate, Charles J.: The Reich Wreckers: An Analysis of the 306th Bomb Group During World War II (Paperback). Biblio Scholar.
William, Vernon: Thurleigh Memories: The 306th Bomb Group (H) in World War II – Documentary (DVD).