“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Atwater in Merced County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

A Comrade’s Tribute to Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle A.A.F.


A Comrade’s Tribute to Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle A.A.F. Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, October 4, 2017
1. A Comrade’s Tribute to Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle A.A.F. Marker
Inscription. The heart is torn of late by the almost daily reports of heroes killed in action: Bottcher, Preddy, and now Castle. They all seem to have been made from a knightly stamp. Gallant and chivalrous men whom the Gods themselves will welcome. Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle, killed while leading an Air Division of B47’s over Europe, lived in Washington. He had earned a rare distinction among the younger Air Corps Generals.

Many of these officers have risen quickly to high rank because of their ability as staff officers. Others have won stars as combat leaders. Castle was outstanding both as staff officer and as combat leader. Although he had been a civilian for eight years when he donned a captain’s uniform early in 1942, he promptly shouldered one of the most formidable jobs of the war. This was to go to Europe with General Eaker to help create what is now the Eighth Air Force. Castle as Air Chief of Staff, A-4, was responsible for the planning of an elaborate system of Air Bases, spare parts, and overhaul depots and supply installations for a huge air force, not yet in existence. He worked for a year in this key position, with brilliant effectiveness, but his urge for flying combat got the upper hand, and he was given command early in 1943 of a heavy bomber group of B-47’s, which he led when the bombers were flying against the Luftwaffe.


A Comrade’s Tribute to Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle A.A.F. Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, October 4, 2017
2. A Comrade’s Tribute to Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle A.A.F. Marker
A distant shot of the marker
“flying Colonel” had a propensity for ducking the easy missions, but when tough mission came through on the field order, like the Regensburg Mission, when thrusts were ordered deeper into Germany, Poland and finally to bases in Russia, Castle was out at the hard-stand of the lead ship at take-off time. The pilots said “whenever Colonel Castle led a mission we knew he would take care of us.”

Castle must have known that the percentages were accumulating against him, but this was secondary in his mind and heart to giving his last full measure of contribution to duty. Castle’s enormous capacity for work appalled his colleagues when he was a staff officer. He flogged himself on beyond the point of normal endurance; arising from the same real devotion to duty was a sense of self-consecration that drove him into the cockpit before a scheduled mission whenever the worst fighter opposition and the blackest flak loomed ahead. No man can say how far it is to the top of the sky, but those who have fought the enemy in the blue sky, in the blue upper levels where the vapor trails form, and where the mist between life and death is thin. Believe that men like Castle fly on at that higher altitude from which none return to earth. An editorial “Sky Hero” by Lt. Colonel Beirne Lay Jr., Air Corps-Washington Post-January 20, 1943.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
Location. 37° 21.922′ N, 120° 34.383′ W. Marker is in Atwater, California, in Merced County. Marker is on D Street. Touch for map. The marker is on the grounds of the General Castle Museum, formerly the Castle Air Force Base. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater CA 95301, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Castle Memorial Parade Ground (within shouting distance of this marker); The Montpelier-Oakdale Railroad (approx. 6.9 miles away); Merced Assembly Center (approx. 7 miles away); First Court House (approx. 13 miles away).
Regarding A Comrade’s Tribute to Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle A.A.F.. He was a World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient and killed in action. His Medal of Honor information and citation is: *CASTLE, FREDERICK W. (Air Mission)
• Rank and organization: Brigadier General. Assistant Commander, 4th Bomber Wing, U.S. Army Air Corps.
• Place and date: Germany, 24 December 1944
• Entered service at: Mountain Lake, N.J.
• G.O. No. 22, 28 February 1947
Citation: He was air commander and leader of more than 2,000 heavy bombers in a strike against German airfields on 24 December 1944. En route to the target, the failure of 1 engine forced him to relinquish his place at the head of the formation. In order not to endanger friendly troops on the ground below, he refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed maneuverability. His lagging, unescorted aircraft became the target of numerous enemy fighters which ripped the left wing with cannon shells. set the oxygen system afire, and wounded 2 members of the crew. Repeated attacks started fires in 2 engines, leaving the Flying Fortress in imminent danger of exploding. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the bail-out order was given. Without regard for his personal safety he gallantly remained alone at the controls to afford all other crewmembers an opportunity to escape. Still another attack exploded gasoline tanks in the right wing, and the bomber plunged earthward. carrying Gen. Castle to his death. His intrepidity and willing sacrifice of his life to save members of the crew were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.
Categories. War, World II

Credits. This page was last revised on October 11, 2017. This page originally submitted on October 10, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 96 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 10, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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