The City of Aurora will salute the memory of Walter Truemper, the only World War II Medal of Honor recipient to hail from Aurora, by dedicating a Near East side street in his name on Armed Forces Day, May 17.
The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m., and will officially designate the 300 block of East Ave., between North and Fourth Avenues, as Walter E. Truemper Lane. It will feature speeches from City and Aurora’s Veterans Advisory Council officials, presentations from East Aurora’s NJROTC unit, remarks from Walter Truemper’s family members, and an unveiling of the honorary street sign. The street dedication was requested through the City’s Veterans Advisory Council.
Truemper, who was a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroics during his assignment on a bombing raid over enemy-occupied Europe on Feb. 20, 1944. Lt. Truemper was serving as the navigator of a B-17 bomber known as “Ten Horsepower” when it came under intense fire by German fighters. The attack instantly killed the co-pilot, rendered the pilot unconscious, and seriously wounded the radio operator. Despite the severely-damaged plane, Lt. Truemper and the six other crew members who were not wounded, righted the aircraft and flew it back to their home base in England.
When they contacted the Control Tower to report their situation and Lt. Truemper and flight engineer SSgt. Archie Mathias volunteered to try and land the plane, the other crew members were ordered to jump. Once Lt. Truemper’s commanding officer, who was in another plane, observed the badly-damaged aircraft, he decided that Truemper and Mathias’ attempt to land the plane would be futile due to their inexperience. They were ordered to abandon the plane and parachute to safety.
Truemper and Mathias responded by telling the commanding officer that the pilot was still alive but could not be moved and they refused to desert him. They were then told to attempt a landing which they tried twice. On the third attempt, the plane crashed into an open field, killing all three men.
Both Truemper and Mathias were awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award for heroism in military action. Only 38 members of the Air Force and its predecessor organizations were awarded Medals of Honor for actions during World War II.
–News Bulletin news sources