Tuesday, November 10, 2015
WW II Vet’s Stolen Medals Replaced
Lt. Andrew Doyle disappeared over the Pacific in 1944;
2 Purple Hearts stolen from only surviving sibling in a burglary
BROOKLYN — Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) joined Brig. Gen. William H. Graham at Fort Hamilton on Nov. 8 to present service medals to Ann Byrne — the only surviving sibling of Lieutenant Andrew Doyle, who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while flying a combat mission in 1944. After remaining in Ms. Byrne’s possession for decades, Lt. Doyle’s medals, including two Purple Hearts, were stolen in a random burglary several years ago.
“When we think of ‘the Greatest Generation,’ we think of people like Lieutenant Andrew Doyle,” said Congressman Donovan. “There is no more fitting way to honor our veterans this week than to replace for Andrew’s family a symbol of his heroism and sacrifice.”
Noted General Graham: “It was a privilege to be able to present the medals, badges, and the Gold Star pin signifying a loved one lost in war to a family that truly understands service and sacrifice for country. Doing it the same week as Veterans Day gave it greater meaning and significance for all of us.”
As a bombardier, Lt. Doyle was deployed to a base in the Pacific. During a mission, his plane was hit and Lt. Doyle sustained serious injuries. Though he had the option to return home after recuperating in a hospital in Hawaii, Lt. Doyle chose to return to duty. On his very next mission, Lt. Doyle’s plane went missing. A search commenced, and although a faint signal and flare were reported, the plane and crew were never found. On February 8, 1946, Lt. Doyle was declared dead. Lt. Doyle’s brother, Hugh Patrick Doyle, was also killed in action in Germany.
Lt. Doyle’s sister, Ann Byrne, and her daughter, Maureen O’Neill, reached out to Donovan’s office to request replacement medals from the U.S. Army, which organized a formal presentation ceremony.
Lt. Andrew Doyle’s Biography (Provided by the Doyle Family)
Lt. Andrew Doyle was born in Brooklyn on October 9, 1920, the oldest brother to siblings Ann, Hugh, and Agnes. His mother was an Irish immigrant and his father served our country during World War I. Andrew was blessed with a beautiful signing voice and he played the banjo. He always sang the solo at Christmas Midnight Mass, up until he left for active duty in World War II.
Andrew graduated from Holy Name Grammar School in Windsor Terrace and from St. Francis Preparatory High School. He was attending Brooklyn College when World War II broke out. Andrew enlisted in the Army at Whitehall Street on April 10, 1942.
Andrew always had a great interest in airplanes and air travel, and after Charles Lindberg’s historic flight, Andrew’s interest in flying heightened. When the United States declared war on Japan, Andrew was determined to join the Army Air Force. After serving nearly a year in the Army, Andrew was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force on January 28, 1943 in Big Springs, Texas. As a bombardier, he was deployed to a base in the Pacific. While on a mission, his plane was hit and Andrew was seriously wounded. Andrew became the first airman to refuse a mid-flight blood transfusion. He was sent to a hospital in Hawaii to recover from his injuries. While recuperating in Hawaii, the American Red Cross asked Andrew to return to the States to be their spokesperson for their nationwide blood drive.
However, when Andrew learned that his crew had not returned from a mission, he wrote to the mother of one of his fellow crew members promising he would do his best to find them. Andrew returned to active duty after a two-month stay in the hospital. On April 30, 1944, while returning from a mission in the Pacific, the plane carrying Lt. Andrew Doyle and the entire crew was reported missing in action.