After completing his 5th mission on May 7, 1944, Wayne wrote confidently “Today’s mission entitles me to the Air Medal!” The award of the Air Medal was based upon different criteria among the numbered Air Forces and different theaters of operation. The 13th Air Force did not award Air Medals after the completion of five missions.1
Wayne completed his 20th combat mission on June 15, 1944.
On July 27, Wayne wrote that he had received six letters from Bonnie. In one of them, he noted, “She wrote and told me I’d receive the Air Medal. News to me but good.” She, too, must have been keeping track of his combat missions as a measure of how soon he would be coming home..
A month later, Bonnie was sent a letter from the Headquarter Thirteenth Air Force informing her that her husband had been awarded the Air Medal. The letter was dated August 24, 1944.
Notes & Commentary
1 Wayne never mentioned whether or not he was disappointed that he did not receive an Air Medal after his 5th mission. Some his fellow gunners who had been assigned to other theaters would have been rich with Oak Leaf Clusters to their Air Medals by this time.