Lee Walter Reininger
|HOME OF RECORD
422 Newton Street, Denver, CO
|NEXT OF KIN
Sister, Mrs. Gwendolyn K. Morehouse
|DATE OF BIRTH*
November 11, 1939
|DATE OF LOSS
June 4, 1942
|CAMPAIGN / AREA
MIA / Declared Dead
|CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
On 4 June 1942, PFC Reininger flew as the radioman/gunner of a Douglas Dauntless (SBD-2 #2129) in an attack on a Japanese carrier strike force in the battle of Midway. He and his pilot, Major Lofton R. Henderson, were seen to be shot down in flames while diving on the carrier Hiryū.
PFC Reininger’s remains were never found, and he was declared dead on 5 June 1943.
Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart
|LAST KNOWN RANK
Private First Class
|STATUS OF REMAINS
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
* Note: Reininger’s exact date of birth is unknown. Conflicting census records suggest 1921 or 1924.
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“The Zeros swarmed after [Henderson], piling on him in threes and fours. Major Henderson fought back with every trick he knew, but he was too far outnumbered. He was hit. We saw it.
“But – and this is something I won’t forget – his gunner, a likable kid, always full of fun, didn’t know it. The other gunners tried to wave and point to the pilot’s cockpit, so he’d know he had to take over the controls, but the young kid just laughed. Somehow he didn’t catch on.
“The plane swerved sharply. The kid looked startled and grabbed his gun as he lost balance. I don’t think he ever had time to take the controls. The plane went into a spin. That was the last we ever saw of him.”
– PFC Truell L. Sidebottom, quoted in Out In The Boondocks by James D. Horan and Gerold Frank.
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