Dyess Awarded Congressional Gold Medal 75 Years After his Death

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The Congressional Gold Medal was received by Elizabeth “Nell” Denman on behalf of Lt. Col William Edwin Dyess, as his youngest sister and only surviving immediate family member. (U.S. Air Force/Kylee Thomas)
The Congressional Gold Medal was received by Elizabeth “Nell” Denman on behalf of Lt. Col William Edwin Dyess, as his youngest sister and only surviving immediate family member. (U.S. Air Force/Kylee Thomas)

Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his service in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, on May 11.

Dyess died in 1943 due to an aircraft mishap during a training flight in California. His youngest sister and only surviving immediate family member, Elizabeth "Nell" Denman, received the medal on his behalf.

The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the U.S. Congress and is one of highest expressions of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution or event.

"The medal is awarded to those who have made significant achievement that profoundly touch American history and its culture," said 1st Lt. McCall Sears, 7th Medical Support Squadron resource management flight commander and one of the coordinators of the ceremony.

George Washington was the first to receive this award in 1776. Only 160 individuals, groups and organizations have received this prestigious award since then.

The medal was awarded to Dyess in recognition of his sacrifice and dedication to the Army Air Corps between the years of 1916 and 1943. He distinguished himself by his heroism as an Army Air Corps aviator, Prisoner of War escapee from the Davao Penal Colony prison camp in the Philippines.

"We are honored to present this prestigious award to Dyess' family and be a part of honoring our base's namesake," said Sears.

During the event, Denman and her family had the opportunity to witness the gratitude of Dyess Airmen for her older brother's sacrifice.

"It is days like these, that make me so proud to be a citizen of this great nation," said Col. Brandon Parker, 7th Bomb Wing commander. "This day is 75 years in the making, but it doesn't lessen the legacy or the meaning of why we are here."

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