Harold E. Goettler

Harold Ernest Goettler was born on July 21, 1890. He attended the University of Chicago, and shortly graduating in 1914, he joined the United States Air Service in 1917. Goettler was killed in the line of duty during World War I while airlifting supplies to the 77th Division of Allied troops trapped by Germans in the Argonne Forest (the infamous “Lost Battalion”). In recognition for his service, First Lieutenant Harold E. Goettler was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, one of only four U.S. airmen to receive that distinction. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

1st. Lt. Goettler, with his observer, 2nd Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley, 130th Field Artillery, left the airdrome late in the afternoon on their second trip to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division which had been cut off by the enemy in the Argonne Forest. 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. In the course of this mission the plane was brought down by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from the ground, resulting in the instant death of 1st. Lt. Goettler. In attempting and performing this mission 1st. Lt. Goettler showed the highest possible contempt of personal danger, devotion to duty, courage and valor.

The Harold E. Goettler Political Institutions Prize awarded to University of Chicago undergraduates is named in his honor. This collection contains memorabilia of Goettler's days as a student, including a scrapbook that tracked his academic, athletic, and social activities at University of Chicago. Also included are memorabilia from his time in the Air Service, including a few photographs and photocopies of his diaries and other photos.

The Harold E. Goettler Papers may be viewed in the Special Collections Research Center in the University of Chicago Library.

Harold E. Goettler, circa 1918

University of Chicago Special Collections.

July 1918 diary entry.
Photocopy of Goettler's diary entry written in July 1918 while he was stationed in France.

University of Chicago Special Collections.

Goettler's colelge football photo.
Photocopy of Goettler's UC football photo, ca. 1910-1914.

University of Chicago Special Collections.