One of four airmen to receive the Medal of Honor during WWI, Goettler was born in Chicago, Ill., July 21, 1890, and was killed in action, near Binarville, France, Oct. 6, 1918.
Harold Goettler joined the Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps as a private first class in July 1917, and was called to active duty the following month. He was assigned to the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Illinois for three months, and from October 1917 to January 1918, was stationed at Camp Mohawk, Canada, and Taliafero Field, Texas as a student. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and went overseas in February 1918 with the 28th Aero Squadron in England. He was transferred to the 50th Aero Squadron in France in August 1918 and lost his life Oct. 6, on a mission near Binarville, France.
Flying with his observer, Second Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley, who also received the Medal of Honor for this extraordinary heroism, Lieutenant Coettler made a second trip the same day to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division, which had been cut off by the enemy in the Argonne Forest.
The citation for his Medal of Honor reads, in part: " . . . Having been subjected on the first trip to violent fire from the enemy, they attempted on the second trip to come still lower in order to get the packages even more precisely on the designated spot...the plane was brought down by enemy rifle and machine-gun fire from the ground, resulting in the instant death of Lt. Coettler. In attempting and performing this mission, he showed the highest possible contempt of personal danger, devotion to duty, courage and valor."
See the full citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
See more information at the National Museum of the USAF website.