Veteran recalls honors given to dad in World War II, brother in Vietnam

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 11, 2012 

William Edwin Phillips served with a B-26 squadron in Europe and Africa during World War II, where he received numerous medals and his unit received the French Croix de Guerre. Phillips' two sons also served in the Army, including Jeff Phillips of Blaine.

JEFF PHILLIPS — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

I grew up and lived in Kentucky, as did my family, but I moved here in 2007. My father, older brother and I served all served in the U.S. Army at various times.

My dad, Sgt. William Edwin Phillips, served during World War II, from March 2, 1942, to Sept. 25, 1945, with the 12th Army Air Corps, 320th Bomb Group, 442nd Squadron, 42nd Wing, at B-26 Marauder bases in Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia, Corsica, France and Germany.

He was decorated with two Presidential Unit citations, the World War II Victory Medal, European African Middle Eastern Medal with six Battle Stars, the American Campaign Medal, and the Ruptured Duck service discharge pin.

He also was awarded the Bronze Star on Jan. 28, 1944, for the attack and invasion at Anzio, and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre on Sept. 6, 1944, for the bombing assault of the Siegfried Line from April-June 1944.

The Croix de Guerre is the French government's equivalent of the Presidential Unit Citation, and dad's 42nd Wing was the first American or Allied Force to receive the award during WWII. The award was presented by General Charles de Gaulle, president of the French provisional government.

My father passed away in Kentucky on Jan. 6, 1994, at the age of 79.

My older brother, Spec. 4 William Joseph Phillips, served two tours in Vietnam, 1971 to 1972. While a door gunner in an OH-6 "loach" Cayuse helicopter he was shot down. He was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery during the crash for saving his crewmates from being overrun CQby the enemy while waiting for another helicopter to retrieve them.

He also was awarded two Air Medals, a Vietnam Service Medal, a Vietnam Campaign Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm awarded to his infantry brigade.

He resides in Kentucky today.

My service as a sergeant ran December 1974 through 1977. I served with a Nike Hercules nuclear missile base in Hardheim Germany, with the 3rd Battalion, 71st Air Defense. I was given the Good Conduct Medal and I'm considered a Vietnam-era serviceman since I entered in December 1974, although I never served "in country."

My wish this Veterans Day is for everyone to remember the brave servicemen serving today keeping us safe and free. We all thank you for your service to our country.

- Jeff Phillips, Blaine

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