Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps.
Place and date: Near
Wewak, New Guinea, 18 August 1943.
Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y.
San Francisco, Calif.
G.O. No.: 72, 28 October 1943.
Citation: For conspicuous
gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with
the enemy. While Maj. Cheli was leading his squadron in a dive to attack
the heavily defended Dagua Airdrome, intercepting enemy aircraft centered
their fire on his plane, causing it to burst into flames while still 2
miles from the objective. His speed would have enabled him to gain necessary
altitude to parachute to safety, but this action would have resulted in
his formation becoming disorganized and exposed to the enemy. Although
a crash was inevitable, he courageously elected to continue leading the
attack in his blazing plane. From a minimum altitude, the squadron made
a devastating bombing and strafing attack on the target. The mission completed,
Maj. Cheli instructed his wingman to lead the formation and crashed into
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)