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b. 25/07/1918 Carlisle, Pennsylvania. d. 22/03/2007 Boothbay Harbour, Maine.


DATE OF MOH ACTION: 16/06/1943 Buka, Solomon Islands.


World War II Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. As a bomber pilot he was awarded the Nation's highest military honor for fighting off enemy attacks during a photographic mapping mission. Major Zeamer of the Army Air Force received the honor for his actions on June 16, 1943, while volunteering for a mission over an area near Buka in the Solomon Islands that was defended by the Japanese. While photographing the Buka airdrome, his crew spotted about 20 enemy fighters on the field. Zeamer continued with the mapping run, even after an attack in which he sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs that left him with broken leg. In spite of his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so that his gunners could fend off the attack during a 40-minute fight in which at least five enemy planes were destroyed. He also earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars and two Air Medals for his service in the South Pacific. Although he was weak from the loss of blood and lapsing into unconsciousness he continued to command and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away.


He returned to MIT and obtained a master's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1946. Zeamer then worked for a series of aerospace companies: Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Connecticut, followed by Hughes Aircraft in Los Angeles, California, and finally Raytheon in Bedford, Massachusetts. Zeamer moved to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in 1968, where he enjoyed rowing in the harbor, as he had done in his childhood. He retired in 1975.


Zeamer married in 1949, and with his wife Barbara raised five daughters: Marcia, Jacque, Jayne, Susan, and Sandra. Barbara Zeamer stated that he rarely talked about his wartime experiences or the medal. "I think he didn't feel he deserved it. He was so close to his bombardier [Sarnoski] and he felt terrible about his being killed."


Zeamer died in a nursing home at age 88. At the time of his death, he was the last living Medal of Honor recipient of the Army Air Forces. Zeamer's funeral was held on May 11, 2007, with a burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The governor of Maine, John Baldacci, ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-staff on the day of the funeral.




On 16 June 1943, Maj. Zeamer (then Capt.) volunteered as pilot of a bomber on an important photographic mapping mission covering the formidably defended area in the vicinity of Buka, Solomon Islands. While photographing the Buka airdrome, his crew observed about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off. Despite the certainty of a dangerous attack by this strong force, Maj. Zeamer proceeded with his mapping run, even after the enemy attack began. In the ensuing engagement, Maj. Zeamer sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs, one leg being broken. Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so skillfully that his gunners were able to fight off the enemy during a running flight which lasted 40 minutes. The crew destroyed at least five hostile planes, of which Maj. Zeamer himself shot down one. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away. In this voluntary action, Maj. Zeamer, with superb skill, resolution, and courage, accomplished a mission of great value.



Section 34, Grave 809-4











Jay Zeamer Jnr