A Son of Utah with Grit - Lt. Commander William E. Hall, USNR, Medal of Honor (1913-1996)
BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. William E. Hall was born in Storrs Utah on October 31, 1913, and was raised there. After finishing high school in Utah and graduating from University of Redlands in California, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May 1938.
Hall was assigned to flight training at Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Long Beach, California and later at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Hall received his wings in September 1939, was designated a Naval Aviator, and was commissioned in the rank of Ensign.
His first duty assignment was with the Scouting Squadron Five (VS-5) on board USS Yorktown, his assignment until February 1942. In February 1942, soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he participated in raids on Japanese bases in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. Later in that month he transferred to USS Enterprise and, in April, was sent to Scouting Squadron Two (VS-2), operating from USS Lexington.
By May of 1942 Hall had been promoted in rank to Lieutenant JG. On May 7 and 8, Hall’s squadron was heavily involved in the Battle of the Coral Sea. His skill as a dive bomber helped with the destruction of the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho on May 7. The following day on May 8, as U.S. and Japanese carriers exchanged attacks, he aggressively engaged superior numbers of enemy planes, resulting in the shooting down of three. Despite serious wounds, he brought his SBD "Dauntless" scout-bomber safely back aboard his ship. For his "extreme courage and conspicuous heroism" on these occasions, Hall was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In September of 1942 Hall married Leah Christine Chapman, a nurse that he met while recovering from his wounds. For most of the rest of the year, Hall spent his time recovering from his injuries at the Naval Hospital, San Diego, California. During this time he was promoted Lieutenant. In 1943, he began duty as an instructor at the Naval Air Station, Daytona Beach, Florida. In March of 1944 Hall was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. After serving for only a few months at the Naval Air Station, Miami, Florida, he was transferred for staff duty to the Naval Air Station, Seattle, Washington.
During the last few months of WW II, Hall was assigned briefly to the Night Attack Combat Training Unit, Pacific. His last duty station was staff duty with Commander Fleet Air, Western Pacific. In October1946, he was released from active duty. Hall remained in the Naval Reserve for nearly another decade and a half, retiring in November 1960.
Medal of Honor
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant, Junior Grade William Edward Hall, United States Navy, for extreme courage and conspicuous heroism in combat above and beyond the call of duty as Pilot of a scouting plane in Scouting Squadron Two (VS-2) attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. In a resolute and determined attack on 7 May, Lieutenant (j.g.) Hall dived his plane at an enemy Japanese aircraft carrier, contributing materially to the destruction of that vessel. On 8 May, facing heavy and fierce fighter opposition, he again displayed extraordinary skill as an airman and the aggressive spirit of a fighter in repeated and effectively executed counterattacks against a superior number of enemy planes in which three enemy aircraft were destroyed. Though seriously wounded in this engagement, Lieutenant (j.g.) Hall, maintaining the fearless and indomitable tactics pursued throughout these actions, succeeded in landing his plane safe.
Action Date: May 07 & 8, 1942
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Company: Scouting Squadron 2 (VS-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)
Hall reached the rank of lieutenant commander before leaving the Navy. He died at age 83 and was buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His wife Christine “Chris“ passed away on April 8, 2001 and joined her husband at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
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