Denver Post LAKEWOOD, CO – April 11: Armand Sedgeley, 96, whose World War II valor when the B-17 on which he was bombardier was shot down by German fighters has been overlooked for decades. But now Sedgeley, who lives in Lakewood, may receive the Silver Star thanks to the work of a New York scuba diver who found dog tags in the sunken wreckage of the plane and has made honoring the seven survivors a mission.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of marine biologist John Fine in tracking down the survivors of an American B-17 “Flying Fortress” that crashed off the coast of Corsica in WWII, Sedgeley might end up receiving a Silver Star for his actions on Valentine’s Day, 1944. Sedgeley and the navigator shot down one of four German fighters attacking their aircraft. The tail gunner, whose guns malfunctioned, was killed in the attack, as well as one waist gunner and the radioman.
With both engines on the left side destroyed, the pilot had to ditch in the Mediterranean Sea.
In 1992, Fine found the dogtags of the radioman, RH Householder, 120 feet down in the wreckage of the bomber. That started his quest to find out what happened to the rest of the crew, and to hold a memorial service at the site. Of the seven survivors, only Sedgeley and the pilot, Frank Chaplick were still alive when Fine tracked them down in 1995.
After the ceremony, Fine discovered that two of the gunners had been awarded Silver Stars for their action that day, but Sedgeley’s recommendation had never gone through. Determined to make that right, he contacted the US Air Force with additional information. Now, everyone is waiting to hear back.
Asked why he has gone through so much effort and expense over the last 26 years, Fine said “We can’t forget those that saved the world from fascism. We can’t forget them. I was determined that we would not forget them.”
-excerpted from a story by Kevin Simpson, Denver Post