LT William Russell was a UF2G co-pilot assigned to Coast Guard Air Attachment Sangley Point, Republic of the Philippines. LT Russell distinguished himself in the rescue of the ditched Northwest Airlines DC7C plane in the Philippine Sea on 14 July 1960.
His citation reads “Assisting in the search for survivors from a ditched Northwest Airlines DC7C plane, approximately seventy miles northeast of Sangley Point, Lieutenant RUSSELL skillfully piloted the plane, and despite adverse weather and flying conditions, his vigilance resulted in spotting a flare which led to the rescue of the fifty-seven survivors, who were located in four life rafts. He demonstrated his competency by accurately evaluating sea conditions and skillfully accomplishing a successful open sea landing in four-foot swells, and expertly maneuvered the aircraft to pick up the survivors. Twenty-three survivors were crowded into the plane, succored and made comfortable. The rest were rescued by a Navy P5M, which had been directed to the scene. Lieutenant RUSSELL then assisted in the skillful taxiing of the plane twenty miles to the sheltered waters of Anibawan Bay, Polillo Island, for further evacuation of the weary survivors to Manila.”
As a result of his actions on 14 July 1960, LT Russell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his expert airmanship, dauntless valor, and sound judgement in the saving of the 23 Northwest Airlines passengers.