Long Overdue Recognition

Robert Giles, a B-17 navigator who saved a crewmate’s life as their shot-up B-17 was going down over Berlin, Germany, in April 1944, received the Air Medal for his actions—at long last—during a ceremony Tuesday at Kirtland AFB, N.M. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that administrative errors were to blame for the 66-year oversight that prevented Giles, who turns 89 on April 16, from receiving this honor earlier. After dropping its load of bombs, Giles’ B-17 was hit by cannon fire from a German fighter, severely injuring the bombardier, Lt. Quintin Brown, according to AP. Despite his own arm wound, then-2nd Lt. Giles got Brown and himself out of the disabled bomber. They both parachuted into German captivity. Brown died two years ago. “I’m sorry he couldn’t be here today,” said Giles of his late colleague. The Air Medal recognizes meritorious achievement in aerial flight.