Barton T. Williams

Barton T. Williams served as an Army Air Force Pilot World War II.

ETO Williams began his military training in 1943 at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center in San Antonio, Texas. He endured 6 hours of classes and two hours of physical training a day for 4½ weeks. Williams trained in math, as well as naval, ground, and airplane identification.

Upon completing his training in San Antonio Mr. Williams was sent to join the 496th Fighter/Bomber Squadron in Hammond, Louisiana. There he trained on the AT-6 trainer airplane, and later the P-47 Thunderbolt, which he would fly in missions over Nazi Germany less than two years later.

In January of 1944, Williams came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized in Salt Lake City, Utah. While recuperating he missed the the transfer date for advanced pilot training in Harding, Louisiana. He feared that he would never get to be a pilot in combat.

After he recovered fully from his bout of pneumonia Mr. Williams was attached to the 362nd Fighter Group and sent overseas. He flew 82 missions, shot down two German aircraft, and spent 14 months overseas before crash-landing in Germany after a piece of debris from one of those aircraft pierced and disabled his engine. He crashed in an empty field and started walking. Williams unwittingly walked straight into the middle of two German patrols six hours after he first began his trek to safety.

One German spotted him but he was able to escape capture by hiding behind a tree saving him from having to spend the rest of the war as a POW. He continued walking for a total of three days, following the sound of artillery, before he came across fellow American pilots. He soon rejoined his unit and was back to flying missions. Mr.Williams was only 22 at the time he was shot down.

Before returning to Duluth, Minnesota in 1945 he would earn the rank of Lieutenant and receive both the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters for his actions during the war.

Mr. Williams married and had three daughters.

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