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Frederick W. Castle was born in Manila, Philippine Islands, in October 1908. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1930 after serving two years in the New Jersey National Guard. He was detailed immediately to the Air Corps for flying training which he completed at March Field, Calif., and Kelly Field, Texas, earning his wings in 1931. He served as a pilot and assistant operations officer with the 17th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field, Mich., until February 1934 when he returned to civilian life, holding reserve status with the New York National Guard.

General Castle re-entered active service in January 1942 as a captain, with promotion to major in March and to lieutenant colonel in September. He was one of eight officers selected to accompany Maj. Gen. Ira Eaker to England to form the 8th Air Force. He was promoted to colonel in January 1943. He took command of the 94th Bomb Group that June, and in April 1944 became commanding officer of the 4th Combat Wing. He led many combat missions, including important ones to Regensburg, and in November he was promoted to brigadier general.

On Dec. 24, 1944, on his 30th bombing mission, General Castle was killed while leading an air division of B-17s over Liege, Belgium. En route to the target, his plane lost an engine, forcing him to drop from the lead of the formation and his aircraft was then attacked by German fighters. Since he was flying over friendly troops on the ground, General Castle refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed. All of the crew, except General Castle and the pilot, were able to escape before the plane exploded.

His Congressional Medal of Honor citation reads:

He was air commander and leader of more than 2,000 heavy bombers in a strike against German airfields on 24 December 1944. En route to the target, the failure of 1 engine forced him to relinquish his place at the head of the formation. In order not to endanger friendly troops on the ground below, he refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed maneuverability. His lagging, unescorted aircraft became the target of numerous enemy fighters which ripped the left wing with cannon shells. set the oxygen system afire, and wounded 2 members of the crew. Repeated attacks started fires in 2 engines, leaving the Flying Fortress in imminent danger of exploding. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the bail-out order was given. Without regard for his personal safety he gallantly remained alone at the controls to afford all other crewmembers an opportunity to escape. Still another attack exploded gasoline tanks in the right wing, and the bomber plunged earthward. carrying Gen. Castle to his death. His intrepidity and willing sacrifice of his life to save members of the crew were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

His other decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals and the Purple Heart.

Merced Army Air Field was redesignated Castle Field in his honor on Jan. 17, 1946. The facility became Castle Air Force Base in 1948. It closed in 1995.

(Biography compiled from information in the Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers by R. Manning Ancell with Christine M. Miller; U.S. Air Force Biographical Dictionary by Flint O. DuPre, Col., U.S. Air Force Reserve; and a biography written by the Castle Air Museum Foundation, Inc., located at