Clark Fork Chronicle: Tester presents medals to family of fallen WWII pilot

Surrounded by a military honor guard, Senator Jon Tester on Friday in Billings presented three World War II medals to the family of a pilot who died in service to his country nearly 70 years ago.

Tester secured the medals from the U.S. Army after receiving a letter from 14-year old James Simpson, a student at Billings Senior High School. Simpson told Tester that his great grandfather, Lt. Jay Frederick Simpson, died at the age of 27 when the P-47 Thunderbolt he was test-flying crashed in England on January 9, 1944.

Residents of Moreton, England considered Lt. Simpson a hero. When his plane suddenly burst into flames and flipped over in the air, Lt. Simpson prevented the aircraft from hitting several homes before it crash landed in a nearby field. Today a monument marks the site of the crash.

In a speech submitted for the Congressional Record, Tester said Lt. Simpson’s heroism was “overlooked by his own country” until his great grandson James started doing some research.

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