J R graduated from Colorado State University in 1940 with a degree in Forestry.
He was married in December of 1940.
When he was KIA on 7 May 1944 during his third mission, J R left behind these family members:
Kay, his wife
John Reuben Sr., his father
Cora, his mother
Maurice, Max, and David, his brothers
Doris, his sister
His aircraft, a B-17 42-39943 'Lassie Come Home', was shot down on 7 May 1944 after a bombing raid over Berlin and J R was killed in action (KIA).
He is buried in Belgium.
J R received the Purple Heart which is in the possession of a family member.
J R's WWII draft registration, presumably filled out by J R, shows his birthdate as 18 Aug 1916, but his birth certificate, while sloppy, shows his birth date as 12 Aug 1916. The draft registration also says his middle name is Russell. His birth certificate has no name on it but the 1940 US Census lists him as John R Jr. Since the suffix Jr. clearly communicates that he is named after someone with the name John R., one can reasonably extrapolate the fact that the R in J R's name stands for Reuben* and that he was, in fact, named after his father, John Reuben Leach.
How do I explain the draft registration discrepancy? Well, the cousin who is in possession of J R's Purple Heart told me that J R was known as something of a "rascal". With that verbal tidbit, and with the 1940 US Census listing him as John R. Jr., I feel pretty confident that J R thought he was being funny. I also spoke with a WWII veteran (who recently passed away - RIP, Harold) who said that no identification of any kind was required to register for the draft. Since J R was living in Idaho Springs, Colorado which, to this day, is a tiny town where everyone would know everyone, there likely would have been no questions asked. In addition, his father was a prominent merchant in the town, well known and well respected so it makes sense that his registration would not be questioned. His father was called by his first name, John.
*MACR 4587 Page 2 records his middle name as Russell.
Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Berlin 7-May-44 in B-17 42-39943 'Lassie Come Home'; shot down by flak, crashed Hohnebostel, seven miles SE of Celle Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 4587
Units served with
The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...
B-17 Flying Fortress
Delivered Long Beach 13/10/43; Gr Island 31/10/43;
Military site : airfield
Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...
||Childress, Texas, USA
||12 August 1916
Son of John Reuben and Cora Lee [Curd] Leach.
||1944 – 7 May 1944
Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF.
||7 May 1944
Failed to Return (FTR) Berlin 7-May-44 in B-17 42-39943 'Lassie Come Home'; shot down by flak KIA MACR 4587
||Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial
Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial
Plot: B Row: 38 Grave: 6