Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TFH 11/14: Lieutenant Colonel Harold W. Bauer, USMC

Harold William Bauer was born to German immigrants in Woodruff, Kansas on November 20, 1908. He began his service to our Nation when he was appointed to attend the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland in 1926. After graduating with the Naval Academy class of 1932, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

Bauer began World War II as a Captain, and became the founding commanding officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212), the "Lancers", when the squadron was activated on March 1, 1942. He received his promotion to Major on April 29 of that year, and a rapid follow-on to Lieutenant Colonel on August 7.

VMF-212 flew from Vanuatu in the South Pacific and flew missions against the Japanese as part of the Guadalcanal Campaign. Bauer's personal courage in the skies, and superior leadership of his squadron, saw Lancer flying leathernecks destroy 92 enemy aircraft, at least eleven of those by Bauer himself. For six months of courage above and beyond the normal call of duty, he received the Medal of Honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):


Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 20 November 1908. Woodruff, Kans. Appointed from: Nebraska. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage as Squadron Commander of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 in the South Pacific Area during the period 10 May to 14 November 1942. Volunteering to pilot a fighter plane in defense of our positions on Guadalcanal, Lt. Col. Bauer participated in 2 air battles against enemy bombers and fighters outnumbering our force more than 2 to 1, boldly engaged the enemy and destroyed 1 Japanese bomber in the engagement of 28 September and shot down 4 enemy fighter planes in flames on 3 October, leaving a fifth smoking badly. After successfully leading 26 planes on an over-water ferry flight of more than 600 miles on 16 October, Lt. Col. Bauer, while circling to land, sighted a squadron of enemy planes attacking the U.S.S. McFarland. Undaunted by the formidable opposition and with valor above and beyond the call of duty, he engaged the entire squadron and, although alone and his fuel supply nearly exhausted, fought his plane so brilliantly that 4 of the Japanese planes were destroyed before he was forced down by lack of fuel. His intrepid fighting spirit and distinctive ability as a leader and an airman, exemplified in his splendid record of combat achievement, were vital factors in the successful operations in the South Pacific Area.

On November 14, 1942, after destroying two enemy aircraft, Bauer was shot down and bailed out into the sea. He was observed alive in the water, but later search and rescue efforts failed to locate him. His remains were never found.

Bauerfield International Airport, the main air portal of Vanuatu, is named for the brave commander of VMF-212. The USS Bauer (DE-1025), a Dealey-class destroyer escort/frigate, served the United States Navy from 1957 to 1973. Bauer received two battle stars for Vietnam service and was scrapped in 1974.

Bauer's squadron is today known as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 (VMFA-212) and is currently awaiting reactivation as one of the first USMC squadrons that will be equipped with the upcoming Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

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