Lieutenant Colonel Leon R. Vance, US Army Air Forces (1916–1944), was awarded the Medal of Honor for action in World War II while leading an air assault against enemy German coastal antiaircraft positions on the French coast, 5 June 1944.
Approaching the target his aircraft was struck repeatedly by antiaircraft fire which seriously crippled the ship, killed the copilot, and wounded several members of the crew, including himself. In spite of his wound, and with three engines lost to flak, he led his formation over the target successfully destroying it. After applying a tourniquet to his leg, he realized the ship was approaching stall attitude; and the remaining engine was failing, he struggled to a semi-upright position beside the copilot and took over the controls of the ship.
Even though losing altitude he successfully reached the English coast. He gave the order to bail out, but was told that one crew member was seriously wounded and could not jump. He then ditched the B-24 in the English Channel and all were rescued. He was hospitalized in England and later was put on a plane bound for the United States. The plane he was in disappeared somewhere over the Atlantic.
Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma, is named in his honor.