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Tech. Sgt. James H. Ledford

On Dec. 8, 1952, disaster struck a 6167th Operations Squadron B-26 crew on a low-level classified mission over North Korea -- an antiaircraft shell exploded next to the pilot, Maj. Lawrence Freligh, severely wounding him. Freligh slumped against the control column, sending the aircraft into a dive. Flight Engineer Tech. Sgt. James H. Ledford saved the aircraft and crew by pulling the B-26 out before it hit the ground.

Freligh was too wounded to be moved out of the pilot’s seat, and he told the navigator, Lt. Forrest L. Hicks, and Ledford to bail out, but they both refused. Ledford then helped the partially incapacitated pilot fly back to base and land the damaged B-26.

For their actions, all three men received the Distinguished Service Cross.

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