Technical Sergeant Howard “Holt” Thornton enlisted in the United States Army when he was 17 years old.
Upon graduation from basic training, he was assigned as an aircrew member of a B-24 bomber in Spinazzola, Italy.
While there, Thornton completed 52 combat missions, including the attack on the Ploesti oil production facilities in eastern Romania.
Thornton earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and five Air Medals. He was forced to parachute to safety three times while in combat, and was injured twice, according to military officials.