Medal for Merit, with certificate (Dr. William F. Durand)
Medal for Merit to Dr. William F. Durand, pioneering aviation engineer. Medal for Merit, slot brooch, unmarked. With the original certificate signed by Secretary of States James F. Byrnes and President Harry S. Truman, dated 15 April 1946. With numerous original letters and documents from his career and an old photostatic copy of the citation for the Medal for Merit. The medal shows light age; the documents show some wear, adhesive residue and staining from framing.
The citation reads: Dr. William Frederick Durand, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the United States. Dr. Durand, at the age of 81, came out of retirement to serve, without compensation, extraordinarily and with distinction from 1941 to 1945 as a member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics; Chairman, NACA subcommittee on Jet and Turbine Power Plants; Chairman, Division of Engineering and Industrial Research, National Research Council; and, member of various committees of the National Academy of Sciences. He supplied the initiative and leadership necessary for the success of American research in several fields of science, particularly applications to Jet and Turbine power plants for aircraft, ship stabilization, turning and heeling of ships, and wind tunnels. At an age when few men care to assume arduous duties, Dr. Durand gave his entire time and energy, and his great wisdom to the service of the Government. By his example and counsel, and with characteristic modesty, he guided and inspired research workers to accomplishments which contributed to the success of the United Nations in the war.” (Signed Harry S. Truman). With an official Air Force photograph of General Carl Spaatz, Air Force Chief of Staff, presenting the medal to Dr. Durand in 1948.
William F. Durand (1859-1958) was an 1880 graduate of the US Naval Academy, serving in the fleet for 7 years before resigning to teach engineering at civilian schools. He joined the engineering faculty of Stanford University in 1904, beginning the study of aircraft propellers and building one of the earliest wind tunnels for testing of aircraft components. Durand was a prolific researcher and author in his field.