Searching for information on my grandfather's service in WWII in the 8th Air Force & trying to identify his medals.

What I know is that my grandfather, Hal Howard Hill (born 6.20.19 and died 9.24.2004) served in the 8th Air Force as a flight engineer on B-24s and he was stationed at Metfield in England. His service number was 13131686. I have letters from him to my grandmother dated as follows

February 12, 1943 from Atlantic City (perhaps in training? The letter mentions being in "Flight A, Group 6)

June 2, 1945 from France (the letters make it sound like he was recovering from an injury in France?)

June 10, 1945 from Paris 

July 27, 1945 from Boston - Western Union telegram that reads "Arrived safely. Expect to see you soon. Don't attempt to contact or write me here. Love, Hal" 

When I was little, he would always show me a piece of mangled metal and would tell me that his plane was hit and that this piece of metal was the shrapnel that was lodged in his neck. It would be great to know the name of his plane and then I could hopefully figure out the missions he flew on and if his plane was hit or if that was a tall tale. My cousin is under the impression that he was honorably discharged due to having a mental health crisis (had a psychotic break and was found walking the flight line). 

I have his wings, his 8th Air Force badge and pin, and his bars. I've been able to identify some of the bars (I think), with the exception of one of them, and believe that another of the bars *could* be a purple heart. I'm hoping someone can help me identify these. I believe they are U.S. Victory (red with a rainbow on both left and right sides), unidentified (navy with gray/silver thick bar in the center and a thin gray/silver line on either side of the thicker bar), Good Conduct (red with 3 white lines on the left and right sides), Air Medal (blue bar with thick orange bars on the left and right sides) and finally, could it be a Purple Heart (purple with white on the left and right sides)?! I wish I could figure out how to upload a photo. 

He didn't talk about his experience, except for the story about his plane being hit and for another story about how he claims to have seen Queen Elizabeth chatting with servicemen after a blitz in England. Other than that, his experiences and service history are a mystery. Please help! 

  • Hal Hill.pdf Here is an image of the bars. Please help me identify the navy bar in the middle and the purple and white bar. Thank you! 


    The Records of the U.S. Army Air Forces (Record Group 18) contain, among other records, the combat mission reports for the World War II period. These records are among the textual records in our custody.  This series consists of the original mission reports pertaining to specific targets.  These reports were filed by the units and sometimes include encounter reports by pilots, aerial photographs, and loading lists. These records can also give an indication of where the unit was deployed during the war. The reports are arranged by units, and identification of the group or squadron and a date of interest are necessary before a search can be conducted. We do not have a name index to these records.

    If you happen to have a copy of your grandfather's discharge certificate (DD Form 214), information concerning the unit to which he was assigned may be contained therein. If not, then we recommend that you obtain a copy of his official military personnel file (OMPF). Military service personnel files and individual medical reports for the period in which you are interested are in the custody of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. You should complete a GSA Standard Form 180 (located here: and mail to the Military Personnel Records, National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. You may also apply online at Please be aware that there was a fire at the Records Center in 1973 and some records were destroyed.

    We invite you to continue the conversation with community members on History Hub, but should you have follow up questions for the staff at Archives II, please email us at so that we can assist you further.

    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


    Textual Reference Archives II Branch (RR2RR)