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John Russell Leach Jr

Military

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
and
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.

Service

People

  • Browning Grimmett

    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 Award: PH.

Show more

Units served with

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    Group
    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...

  • 612th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

Associated Place

  • Deenethorpe

    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...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Childress, Texas, USA 12 August 1916

Son of John Reuben and Cora Lee [Curd] Leach.

Based Deenethorpe 1944 – 7 May 1944

Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF.

Died Hohnebostel, Germany 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

Buried Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial 1946

Re-Interred
Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial
Liege, Belgium
Plot: B Row: 38 Grave: 6

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
14 October 2021 11:00:54 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, biography, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/29032310
https://www.fold3.com/image/538550385
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56359364/john-r-leach

Date Contributor Update
20 January 2019 17:24:16 Gr8Accountant Changes to biography and events
Sources

1940 US Census, verbal interview with cousin who is in possession of the Purple Heart.

Date Contributor Update
21 June 2015 23:09:53 Gr8Accountant Changes to biography
Sources

Additional info gathered and submitted by his niece, Tina (Leach) Lundy. I contacted CSU personally. I was told of his marriage date by a cousin. One of J R's great-nephews has his Purple Heart.

Date Contributor Update
23 March 2015 09:07:30 Emily Changes to biography and events
Sources

Transferred information from duplicate record.

Additional information drawn from the records of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, Savannah, Georgia.

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 03:03:26 bombercommand Changes to media associations
Sources

Missing Air Crew Report 4587

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 00:40:10 Gr8Accountant Changes to biography
Sources

I am his niece.

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 00:12:11 Gr8Accountant Changes to unit associations and place associations
Sources

I am his niece. Some info from the return address on a letter mailed to my father on 24 April 1944. Air base info from Remember Our Heroes website.

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 00:03:39 Gr8Accountant Changes to awards
Sources

I am his niece. This info found on the site Remember Our Heroes.

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2015 00:01:44 Gr8Accountant Changes to service number
Sources

I am his niece.

Date Contributor Update
20 March 2015 23:58:49 Gr8Accountant Changes to biography and events
Sources

I am his niece.

Date Contributor Update
20 March 2015 23:53:35 Gr8Accountant Changes to middlename, suffix and nickname
Sources

I am his niece.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:36 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 4587 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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