Rank and organization:   Lieutenant, U.S. Navy Reserve, Torpedo Boat Squadron
Place and date:   Wasile Bay, Halmahera Island, 16 September 1944.
Entered service at:
Birth:   1 November 1913, Washington, D.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above
and beyond the call of duty as commander, Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 33,
while effecting the rescue of a Navy pilot shot down in Wasile Bay, Halmahera
Island, less than 200 yards from a strongly defended Japanese dock and
supply area, 16 September 1944. Volunteering for a perilous mission unsuccessfully
attempted by the pilot's squadron mates and a PBY plane, Lt. Comdr. (then
Lieutenant) Preston led PT-489 and PT-363 through 60 miles of restricted,
heavily mined waters. Twice turned back while running the gauntlet of fire
from powerful coastal defense guns guarding the 11-mile strait at the entrance
to the bay, he was again turned back by furious fire in the immediate area
of the downed airman. Aided by an aircraft smokescreen, he finally succeeded
in reaching his objective and, under vicious fire delivered at 150-yard
range, took the pilot aboard and cleared the area, sinking a small hostile
cargo vessel with 40-mm. fire during retirement. Increasingly vulnerable
when covering aircraft were forced to leave because of insufficient fuel,
Lt. Comdr. Preston raced PT boats 489 and 363 at high speed for 20 minutes
through shell-splashed water and across minefields to safety. Under continuous
fire for 2l/2 hours, Lt. Comdr. Preston successfully achieved a mission
considered suicidal in its tremendous hazards, and brought his boats through
without personnel casualties and with but superficial damage from shrapnel.
His exceptional daring and great personal valor enhance the finest traditions
of the U.S. Naval Service.
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)