Rank and organization:   Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 52d Bombardment
Squadron, 29th Bombardment Group, 20th Air Force.
Place and date:   Koriyama,
Japan, 12 April 1945.
Entered service at:   Bessemer, Ala.
Birth:   8 May 1921,
G.O. No.: 44, 6 June 1945.
Citation:   He was the radio
operator of a B-29 airplane leading a group formation to attack Koriyama,
Japan. He was charged with the additional duty of dropping phosphoresce
smoke bombs to aid in assembling the group when the launching point was
reached. Upon entering the assembly area, aircraft fire and enemy fighter
opposition was encountered. Among the phosphoresce bombs launched by S/Sgt.
Erwin, 1 proved faulty, exploding in the launching chute, and shot back
into the interior of the aircraft, striking him in the face. The burning
phosphoresce obliterated his nose and completely blinded him. Smoke filled
the plane, obscuring the vision of the pilot. S/Sgt. Erwin realized that
the aircraft and crew would be lost if the burning bomb remained in the
plane. Without regard for his own safety, he picked it up and feeling his
way, instinctively, crawled around the gun turret and headed for the copilot's
window. He found the navigator's table obstructing his passage. Grasping
the burning bomb between his forearm and body, he unleashed the spring
lock and raised the table. Struggling through the narrow passage he stumbled
forward into the smoke-filled pilot's compartment. Groping with his burning
hands, he located the window and threw the bomb out. Completely aflame,
he fell back upon the floor. The smoke cleared, the pilot, at 300 feet,
pulled the plane out of its dive. S/Sgt. Erwin's gallantry and heroism
above and beyond the call of duty saved the lives of his comrades.
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)