First Lieutenant Donald J. Gott was born at Arnett, Oklahoma, 3 June 1923. Twenty-one years later, while piloting a B-17 Flying Fortress with the 729th Bomber Squadron, 452nd Bombardment Group, US Army Air Forces, on a bombing run over Saarbrucken, Germany, his aircraft was severely damaged by enemy ground fire that wounded several crew members.
Three of the aircraft's engines were on fire; dangerous flames from No. 4 engine were leaping back to the tail assembly. Flares in the cockpit ignited, and a fire raged therein, which was further increased by free-flowing fluid from damaged hydraulic lines. In addition, one arm of the radio operator had been severed below the elbow.
Despite great pain and the application of a tourniquet, the radio operator fell unconscious. Faced with the imminent explosion of his aircraft and the death of his crew, he and his copilot agreed that something had to be done to save the life of the seriously wounded radio operator and get him immediate medical aid.
Parachuting into enemy territory was not an option. Bombs were released on target and the crippled aircraft proceeded to ally-controlled territory. He and his copilot ordered the crew to bail out and they chose to remain with the wounded radio operator. He attempted a crash-landing, and while making the approach, the aircraft exploded in mid-air killing all three onboard.
On 16 May 1945, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Gott, age 21 at his death, was laid to rest in Harmon Cemetery, Harmon, Oklahoma.