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Wyoming War Heroes Salute: Lt. Cmdr. William E. Eder

Keystone Getty Images
Keystone Getty Images

The number of Wyoming war heroes are enough to continue this series well passed Memorial Day, but William Ernest Eder, Junior was all Wyoming and all American. Maybe he was born to fly – to one day receive the Navy Cross.

One personal reference to his years growing up is from a fellow shipmate, “’Bill’ was born on a ranch near Buffalo, Wyoming. He graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1938.”
William Eder entered naval flight training and “got his wings” at Pensacola, FL in April 1940. Immediately he was assigned to a fleet fighter squadron. From May 1940 until January 1942 he was a member of Fighting Squadron 3 on the Saratoga and Enterprise, then assigned on board the Lexington. While a member of this squadron, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his part in the battle of Bougainville.

Eder was a part of strikes on Lae and Salamaua. During April and May of 1942, as a member of Fighting Squadron 2, he participated in one of the key points of the Pacific – The Battle of the Coral Sea. For that William Eder received the Navy Cross.

In August 1942 he was transferred to Atlantic duty with Fighting Squadron 29. During this period Eder served time in everything from gunnery, to operations executive officer and on to commanding officer.

Accepting a commission in the Regular Navy in April 1943, Eder moved to Atlantic duty. He was awarded the Silver Star for his part in the squadron’s support of the occupation of French Morocco.

Today if you look over documents long and hard enough, you can see the name Eder pop up numerous times – from The Pacific and Atlantic to The Mediterranean.

Lt. Cmdr. W. E. EDER  5 scores  2 “Judys, Tess, Tojo, Rufe”  (types of planes)

In the history of the USS Cabot – a squadron led by Lt. Cmdr Eder – 112 enemy planes were shot down between Oct. 1944 and April 1945. Fighter squadron 29 had the longest period of extensive combat in history – 6 months. For one four day period, in May 1942, Eder got credit for another 1.5 kills.

In short, there is no question William “Bill” Ernest Eder, Jr returned home an “Ace.”

Lieutenant Commander “Bill” William Eder, Junior lived into his mid 80s, and died on January 8, 2009 in Coronado, California.


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Willard Ernest Eder, Jr., Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane … embarked from the U.S.S. LEXINGTON in action against enemy Japanese forces on 7 and 8 May 1942, in the Air Battle of the Coral Sea. With accurate understanding of his objective and bold perseverance in attaining it, Lieutenant Eder destroyed one Japanese fighter plane and courageously attacked several others. His high devotion to duty in the performance of a dangerous and difficult task contributed measurably to the defense of our forces and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

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