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Louis J. Sebille

Louis J. Sebille

1915-1950

Maj. Louis J. Sebille was born on November 21, 1915 in Harbor Beach, Michigan. He attended Walled Lake Schools and Wayne State University in Detroit. During the late 1930s, he worked as the master of ceremonies on the Chicago nightclub circuit.

Sebille enlisted as an aviation cadet on December 21, 1941. He began flight training in January, 1942 and earned his wings and commission in July, 1942. 2nd Lieutenant Sebille was assigned to the 450th Bombardment Squadron and flew B-26 Marauders. The Group moved to England in early 1943 and Sebille was promoted to 1st lieutenant. He flew the first low level attack ever attempted by B-26s against targets in Europe. He piloted one of 12 aircraft used on that mission. Sebille was promoted to captain in August 1943, as he flew many missions as Squadron, Group and Wing leader.

For his combat action in World War II, Sebille was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 12 Air Medals. He flew 68 combat missions and had 245 hours of combat time.

Airline companies lured Sebille away with the promise of a flying future, but he soon returned to service in July 1946 when he was offered a regular commission. He held numerous flying assignments, including P-51 Mustang and F-80 Shooting Star instructor pilot. In 1948, he was named commander of the 67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He had the formidable task of training new and recalled pilots while converting the Squadron from P-51s to F-80s.

At the outbreak of war in Korea, the Squadron was ordered to convert back to P-51s and move to Ashiya on the island of Kyushu, Japan. In less than a month, the Squadron was combat-ready and in place, joining in the desperate defense of South Korea.

On August 5, 1950, Sebille led a flight of P-51s, armed with 500-pound bombs and rockets, on a strike against enemy troops advancing on Pusan. On his first pass, he was able to release only one of his two bombs. He and his wingmen continued strafing and launching rockets against the enemy. When his P-51 was damaged by ground fire, he elected to dive into the enemy position with his .50 caliber guns firing the whole way.

Sebille was the first pilot in the newly independent Air Force to be awarded the Medal of Honor, which was presented to his widow and young son by the Air Force chief of staff. He is honored by the naming of Sebille Drive at Lackland Air Force Base, and a memorial corner at Harmon Hall at the Air Force Academy.

Louis J. Sebille was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 17, 2010.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program