On October 6, 1918 during his first search for the Lost Battalion, Bleckley thought he had captured a glimpse of the unit. The mission was a terrifying ordeal, and Bleckley’s assigned aircraft had been grounded due to damage from heavy enemy fire. Nevertheless, Bleckley volunteered for a second, riskier mission using a borrowed DH-4. That mission was to locate, map and resupply the besieged American soldiers. The strategy: fly lower and slower to purposely attract enemy fire to pinpoint the missing unit’s position.
Bleckley’s story is extraordinary—his Medal of Honor was earned not just in the heat of the moment, but with deliberation and premeditation. Bleckley knew he wasn’t coming back, so he updated his will before takeoff. When warned by Squadron Commander Captain Daniel Morse of the great danger facing him, Bleckley replied, “We’ll make the delivery or die in the attempt.” William Ettinger, an American ambulance driver and eye witness to Bleckley’s last flight, said “I consider it the greatest act of bravery that I have ever seen.