Friday, January 19, 2018

WW2 Fallen - P-47 pilot Claude Rahn

Lt. Claude Rahn flew P-47s similar to this one in the 66th Fighter Squadron.
http://www.57thfightergroup.org/pictures/angelone/1.html
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/119090122/claude-g-rahn 
Claude Rahn never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 19, 1918 in Maryland. His parents Paul and Maggie were also both born in Maryland. His father worked as a jewelry manufacturer recorder and later as a wholesale jeweler silversmith. Still later he was a jeweler. Claude had one older brother. By 1940 Claude had completed four years of high school and was living at home while working as a clerk. At some point that year he married Vera Dales.

I don't know when Claude enlisted but he became a second lieutenant and pilot in the 66th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group, 12th Air Force. The 57th FG first flew P-40 Warhawks in Egypt in 1942. By 1944 it had switched to P-47 Thunderbolts operating in Italy. The William Wyler documentary Thunderbolt (watch it here) was about the 57th FG. Lt. Rahn was credited with one victory, shooting down a FW-190 on July 1, 1944. He died on July 11, 1944. One source says it was from a noncombat incident, but another source says it was from being hit by flak.

His grave is at Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. His widow never remarried and died in 2003 at age 85. On her gravestone is "A Faithful Wife."

Thank you Claude for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Claude.

Last year on this date I profiled B-17 pilot Harold Barnett. His widow also never remarried and lived to age 91. You can read his story here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

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Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Thursday, January 18, 2018

WW2 Guadalcanal Fallen - Wesley Bales, USS Pensacola

Fireman Wesley Bales, USS Pensacola, died at the Battle of Tassafaronga.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19555038/wesley-craig-bales/photo
http://ww2today.com/30th-november-1942-the-battle-of-tassafaronga-off-guadalcanal 
Wesley Craig Bales never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 18, 1918 in Missouri. His parents Edward and Fannie were also both born in Missouri. His father worked as a farmer. Later he worked as a school bus driver and yet later as a government laborer. Wesley had three older brothers and four older sisters and three younger brothers. At least two brothers served in the Navy in WW2 and one black sheep brother served time in the California prison system during the war years. By 1940 Wesley had completed two years of high school. He moved to Oregon and lived with his older brother and worked at a car wash.

He and his younger brother Ralph both enlisted in the navy. They were assigned to the cruiser USS Pensacola with Wesley as a fireman second class. Pensacola participated in the Battle of Coral Sea in May 1942 and the Battle of Midway in June. In October it fought in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands.

Fireman Wesley Bales and his brother Ralph were both on the Pensacola during the Battle of Tassafaronga during the dark morning hours of November 30, 1944. A task force of American cruisers and destroyers were tasked with stopping Japanese destroyers from bringing reinforcements to Guadalcanal. At this point of the war the Japanese naval forces were an equal match for the Americans. During this battle Pensacola was hit by an enemy torpedo. Its engine room was flooded and three gun turrets rendered useless. Oil-feed flames caused ammunition explosions, but the crew was able to save the ship. During the battle Pensacola lost 125 sailors including Wesley Bales.

His grave is at Mabton Cemetery in Washington. Ralph survived the war and died in 2011.

Thank you Wesley for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Wesley.

Last year on this date I profiled Leo Gagne, one of the very first men killed at Pearl Harbor. You can read his story here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Lyle Peterson, USS Warrington, and the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane

Seaman Lyle Peterson was lost at sea when the USS Warrington sank during the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/90901258/lyle-leonard-peterson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1944_Great_Atlantic_hurricane
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/843.htm 
Lyle Leonard Peterson never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 17, 1918 in Wisconsin. His mother Loretta was also born in Wisconsin. His father Thomas was born in Denmark and worked as a saw mill machinist. He died of suicide in 1921. Lyle had an older sister and three older brothers. His mother remarried and had a boy and a girl. Her second husband left her to raise her children on her own.

By 1940 Lyle had completed 8 years of schooling. He worked as a roofing sider and was married to the former Margaret Moes. They had a son and a daughter.

He enlisted in the navy on May 27, 1944 and became a seaman second class on the destroyer USS Warrington. Warrington was steaming off of the east coast of Florida when it was caught by the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane. The category 4 hurricane shipped water in the ship's engineering spaces during the early hours of September 13, 1944. It lost electric power and the capability to steer. The Hurricane created 70 foot waves. The crew could not keep the ship afloat so the order to abandon ship was given and she sank at 12:50 pm. Rescuers found 73 survivors. Seaman Peterson was one of the 248 men who were lost at sea.

In a strange coincidence, his daughter would also drown a few hundred miles away at age 16.

His cenotaph grave is at Evergreen Cemetery in Oconto, Wisconsin. His widow remarried and died in 1994.

Thank you Lyle for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Lyle.

Last year on this date I profiled Hollis Hamilton of the 7th Infantry Division. You can read his story here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Brady Wood, USS Mullany

Machinist Brady Wood was killed when the destroyer USS Mullany was hit by a Japanese kamikaze plane.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/30356492/brady-mckinley-wood
http://www.ussmullany.org/Ship1940.html 
Brady Wood never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 16, 1918 in North Carolina. His father Monie also born in North Carolina and his mother Bessie was born in Virginia. His father worked as a farmer and later as a furniture cabinet maker. Brady had three younger brothers and a younger sister. At some point he married Betty Jean Wood.

I don't know when Brady enlisted in the navy but he served on the cruiser USS Honolulu, the destroyer USS Grayson, and the destroyer USS Mullany (as a machinist).

On April 6, 1945 Mullany was providing antisubmarine picket guarding support for the Okinawa invasion. It was hit by a kamikaze plane which set of depth charges killing and wounding many. The ship was considered too dangerous to save due to a possible magazine explosion. All crew were ordered off, but later a salvage crew was returned and was able to get a boiler started so the ship could retire. Thirty six men survived with wounds. Twenty-one men were killed and nine went missing. Machinist Wood was one of them.

His (most likely cenotaph) grave is at Oakdale Cemetery in Mount Airy, North Carolina. I don't know what happened to his widow.

Thank you Brady for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Brady.

Last year on this date I profiled Henry Krajna, 4th Armored Division. You can read about Henry here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Monday, January 15, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Doolittle Raider pilot Donald Smith

Captain Donald Smith's first wartime mission was the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raid.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41501295
http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/581327/doolittle-tokyo-raiders-to-receive-congressional-gold-medal/
Donald Gregory Smith never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 15, 1918 in South Dakota. His father was born in Michigan and his mother was born in Colorado. His father worked as a veterinarian. Donald was an only child. He may have been adopted because he was not listed on the family's 1920 census records. By 1940 Donald was completing his final year at the University of South Dakota.

He became a flying cadet in July 1940. He completed flight training in March 1941 and joined the 17th Bomb Group as a first lieutenant. In June 1941 Donald married Marie Crouch. They had one daughter born in July 1942.

In September 1941 the 17th BG received the first B-25s and Donald became a Mitchell pilot. In February 1942 Donald volunteered for an unspecified hazardous mission which turned out to be the famous Doolittle Tokyo Raid. Lt. Smith piloted one of the sixteen B-25s that took off from the carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942. After dropping its bombs on an aircraft factory and docks at Kobe, Japan, Lt Smith's plane TNT ditched at sea near Changsu, China. His crew escaped with the aid of local Chinese who disguised them as Chinese fishermen. Lt. Smith was award the Distinguished Flying Cross for this mission.

After returning to the states Donald became a captain in the 439th Bombardment Squadron, 319th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. This unit was equipped with B-26 Marauders. In November 1942, the 319th BG was operating in North Africa. Captain Smith was in a plane crash and died of injuries on November 12, 1942.

His grave is at Pine Slope Cemetery, Belle Fourche, South Dakota. I don't know what happened to his widow or daughter.

Thank you Donald for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Donald.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Sunday, January 14, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Silver Star hero John Lightsey, 81st Infantry Division

Silver Star hero Captain John Lightsey fell in the Battle of Anguar where the photo of this other soldier was taken.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiG_HLJXgFc
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39044802/john-harold-lightsey
John Harold Lightsey never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 14, 1918 in South Carolina. His parents Ralph and Eula were also both born in South Carolina. His father worked as a hardware store salesman and later as a farmer. John had one older brother, three younger brothers, and five younger sisters. By 1940 John had completed four years at Clemson College and was working as an agronomist.

He enlisted in the army on September 14,1941, following the example of his older brother Ralph who had enlisted in 1940. While he was in the service he married Janie Phillips in December 1942. They had one daughter, Janice. He became a captain in Company G, 3rd Battalion, 322nd Infantry Regiment, 81st Infantry Division (Nicknamed "Wildcat"). While still in training stateside, John learned that his older brother, who training pilots to fly, had been killed in a plane crash on February 2, 1943.

The 81st ID shipped out for Hawaii in June 1944. The 81st ID was given the assignment of taking Anguar Island in the Palau Islands chain. Captain Lightsey landed with his company on September 11. He was slightly wounded on September 20, the day the Americans attacked "the bowl" which the Japanese stubbornly defended for five more days. After that the Americans focused on sealing in the remaining Japanese in their caves. Captain Lightsey was killed on September 28, 1944, two days before the island was considered to be secure. I don't know any of the details regarding the Silver Star he was awarded. In 166 days of combat, 281 men from the 81st ID earned the Silver Star.

His grave is at Fairfax Cemetery in South Carolina. I don't know what happened to his widow or daughter.

Thank you John and Ralph for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for John and Ralph.

Last year on this date I profiled Alaska airman Frank Cranston as well as another better known Alaska airman named Charlton Heston. You can read about Frank here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100

Saturday, January 13, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Charles Gardiner, 4th Infantry Division

Sgt. Charles Gardiner, was a 4th Infantry Division GI at Prum shortly before he was killed.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/107667635/charles-edward-gardiner
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/311100286730140117/
Charles Edward "Chizzy" Gardiner never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 13, 1918 in Iowa. His mother Jennie was born in Pennsylvania and his father Benjamin was born in Ohio. His father worked as a railroad switchman. Charles, known as Chizzy, had one brother and two sisters. Charles married Henrietta Peterman on April 11, 1937. They had two sons. He held various jobs including oil company attendant, bread company salesman, tea company warehouse man, and ironworks machinist.

He enlisted relatively late in the war on August 11, 1944. After training in Arkansas, he left for Europe on January 5, 1945 and joined Company F, 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division as a replacement with the rank of sergeant. As one of the most heavily engaged units beginning on D-Day on Utah Beach, the 4th ID was in constant need of replacements. In 299 days of combat it suffered 20,660 battle casualties, nearly 70 men on average each and every day.

By the time Sgt. Gardiner joined his company, the 4th ID was fighting in Germany. It had cross the Prum River on February 28, 1945 and was racing to the Kyll River. Sgt. Gardiner was killed by a German sniper near Hemispand on March 3, 1945.

His grave is at Aspen Grove Cemetery, Burlington, Iowa.His widow never remarried and she died in 2003, outliving both sons who both died at age 50. Unlike most of the WW2 fallen, Sgt. Gardiner does have living descendants.

Thank you Chizzy for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Chizzy.

Last year on this date I profiled Gerard Infanger, a Pacific theater paratrooper. You can read about Gerard here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100