Rank and organization:   Lieutenant, U.S. Navy.
Birth:   13 July 1912, New
York City, N.Y.
Accredited to:   New York.
Other Navy awards:   Air Medal with
1 gold star.
Citation:   For distinguished and conspicuous gallantry and
intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,
while pilot of an airplane of Bombing Squadron 5, Lt. Powers participated,
with his squadron, in 5 engagements with Japanese forces in the Coral Sea
area and adjacent waters during the period 4 to 8 May 1942. Three attacks
were made on enemy objectives at or near Tulagi on 4 May. In these attacks
he scored a direct hit which instantly demolished a large enemy gunboat
or destroyer and is credited with 2 close misses, 1 of which severely damaged
a large aircraft tender, the other damaging a 20,000-ton transport. He
fearlessly strafed a gunboat, firing all his ammunition into it amid intense
antiaircraft fire. This gunboat was then observed to be leaving a heavy
oil slick in its wake and later was seen beached on a nearby island. On
7 May, an attack was launched against an enemy airplane carrier and other
units of the enemy's invasion force. He fearlessly led his attack section
of 3 Douglas Dauntless dive bombers, to attack the carrier. On this occasion
he dived in the face of heavy antiaircraft fire, to an altitude well below
the safety altitude, at the risk of his life and almost certain damage
to his own plane, in order that he might positively obtain a hit in a vital
part of the ship, which would insure her complete destruction. This bomb
hit was noted by many pilots and observers to cause a tremendous explosion
engulfing the ship in a mass of flame, smoke, and debris. The ship sank
soon after. That evening, in his capacity as Squadron Gunnery Officer,
Lt. Powers gave a lecture to the squadron on point-of-aim and diving technique.
During this discourse he advocated low release point in order to insure
greater accuracy; yet he stressed the danger not only from enemy fire and
the resultant low pull-out, but from own bomb blast and bomb fragments.
Thus his low-dive bombing attacks were deliberate and premeditated, since
he well knew and realized the dangers of such tactics, but went far beyond
the call of duty in order to further the cause which he knew to be right.
The next morning, 8 May, as the pilots of the attack group left the ready
room to man planes, his indomitable spirit and leadership were well expressed
in his own words, "Remember the folks back home are counting on us. 1 am
going to get a hit if 1 have to lay it on their flight deck.'' He led his
section of dive bombers down to the target from an altitude of 18,000 feet,
through a wall of bursting antiaircraft shells and into the face of enemy
fighter planes. Again, completely disregarding the safety altitude and
without fear or concern for his safety, Lt. Powers courageously pressed
home his attack, almost to the very deck of an enemy carrier and did not
release his bomb until he was sure of a direct hit. He was last seen attempting
recovery from his dive at the extremely low altitude of 200 feet, and amid
a terrific barrage of shell and bomb fragments, smoke, flame and debris
from the stricken vessel.
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)