Forrest Vosler

TSgt Forrest Vosler served in the US Army Air Force during World War II and is a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

His citation reads:

VOSLER, FORREST L. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corps. 358th Bomber Squadron, 303d Bomber Group. Place and date. Over Bremen, Germany, 20 December 1943. Entered service at: Rochester, New York. Born: 29 July 1923, Lyndonville, New York. G.O. No.: 73, 6 September 1944.

For conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio operator-air gunner on a heavy bombardment aircraft in a mission over Bremen, Germany, on 20 December 1943. After bombing the target, the aircraft in which T/Sgt. Vosler was serving was severely damaged by antiaircraft fire, forced out of formation, and immediately subjected to repeated vicious attacks by enemy fighters. Early in the engagement a 20-mm. cannon shell exploded in the radio compartment, painfully wounding T/Sgt. Vosler in the legs and thighs. At about the same time a direct hit on the tail of the ship seriously wounded the tail gunner and rendered the tail guns inoperative. Realizing the great need for firepower in protecting the vulnerable tail of the ship, T/Sgt. Vosler, with grim determination, kept up a steady stream of deadly fire. Shortly thereafter another 20-mm. enemy shell exploded, wounding T/Sgt. Vosler in the chest and about the face. Pieces of metal lodged in both eyes, impairing his vision to such an extent that he could only distinguish blurred shapes. Displaying remarkable tenacity and courage, he kept firing his guns and declined to take first-aid treatment. The radio equipment had been rendered inoperative during the battle, and when the pilot announced that he would have to ditch, although unable to see and working entirely by touch, T/Sgt. Vosler finally got the set operating and sent out distress signals despite several lapses into unconsciousness. When the ship ditched, T/Sgt. Vosler managed to get out on the wing by himself and hold the wounded tail gunner from slipping off until the other crewmembers could help them into the dinghy. T/Sgt. Vosler’s actions on this occasion were an inspiration to all serving with him. The extraordinary courage, coolness, and skill he displayed in the face of great odds, when handicapped by injuries that would have incapacitated the average crewmember, were outstanding.

Following a lengthy recovery process, TSgt Vosler enrolled at Syracuse University in the Spring of 1945. “Despite being named the Army Air Force’s “Greatest Hero” of World War II, his injuries to his eyes made it difficult for him to complete our four year degree. He persisted for 17 years, dropping in and out of school, trying to earn the Syracuse University degree he so dearly wanted. Vosler passed away on February 17, 1992 with an unfulfilled dream. But the Syracuse University Veteran’s team doesn’t leave people behind. Last year through a commitment of 11 different departments, staff worked together to prove that while Sergeant Vosler did not meet the criteria for Bachelor’s degree, he did meet the criteria for an Associate’s degree, and that he would have received it had he known how to make the case. In November, we posthumously awarded Forest L. Vosler an Associate Degree of Arts, thus making him a Syracuse University Alumnus, Class of 2015! That took a large team to accomplish. We found them at Syracuse.” (from Chacellor’s remarks at SVA

TSgt Vosler worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs until he died in 1992.