Purple Heart Airm Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters

S/Sgt
Leroy E. Leist

October 18, 1916 - February 4, 1944

Delphos, Ohio - off Haamstede


(picture courtesy of Mrs. Leist Caldwell)

 

S/Sgt Leroy Ernest "Babe" Leist was born on October 18, 1918 in Delphos, Ohio to Earnest and Eva McGath Leist. He has one younger brother. Their mother, Mary died when he was 8 years old, his brother Vernon, was 6. His father raised the
two boys as a single parent. After they were grown, he remarried and had two daughters.

S/Sgt Leist was a member of the Ohio Army National Guard, "Buckeye Division." In 1940, this division was activated and sent to
Camp Shelby, Mississippi.



418th Bomb  Squadron
100th Bomb Group
(picture courtesy 100th BG assoc.)


His daughter, Adrian Leist Caldwell writes: "My mom was a student at a College in the nearby town of Hattiesburg. They met and married in March of 1941. My dad's enlistment in the National Guard was fulfilled and he was released from service. Shortly after his release from obligation with the Ohio National Guard, he was drafted and chose the Army Air Corp.


(picture courtesy of Mrs. Adrian Leist Caldwell)

Because of my dad's size, only 5'9" and weighing 145 lbs, he was assigned as a Tail Gunner. He trained on bases from Texas to Nebraska, and New Jersey. Finally in October of 1941, he was sent to the 100th Bomb Group base near Thorpe Abbots, England and assigned to the 418th Squadron."


(picture courtesy of Mrs. Adrian Leist Caldwell)

On February 4, 1944 S/Sgt Leist and his crew took off for their 15th mission. Target was Frankfurt, Germany. The crew consisted of:

1Lt William E. Green, pilot
2Lt Jack P. Jensen, co-pilot 
2Lt John J. Joyce, Navigator 
2Lt John S. Hamilton, Bombardier 
S/Sgt Robert W. Valentik, Radio Operator Gunner
S/Sgt Roman E. Beran, Top Turet Gunner Engineer
S/Sgt Richard K. Anderegg, Ball Turret Gunner 
S/Sgt Sanford Tisdale, Waist Gunner
S/Sgt Harry J. Waskewicz, Waist Gunner 
S/Sgt Leroy E. Leist, tail Gunner 

S/Sgt Tom Sasser was the Original ROG on this crew but was replaced on the Feb 4, 1944 mission by S/Sgt Robert Valentik.


CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT - Picture taken at Dalhart, Texas prior to October 1943.
(Kneeling l to r): William Green (P), Jack Jensen (CP), Jack Hamilton (BOM), John Joyce (NAV).
(Standing l to r): Roman Beran (TTE), Richard Anderegg (BTG), Robert Valentik (ROG), Sanford Tisdale (RWG), Unknown, Leroy Leist (TG). 
 (picture courtesy 100th BG assoc.)

Their plane was hit by flak and damaged on the flight. Later, the formation was attacked by German Me109's and Fw190's.The Missing Aircrew Report mentions: "This A/C, in 3rd element of the high squadron, pulled out of formation at 1352 hours and headed for the undercast. It was smoking but appeared under control. No chutes were seen."

22 year old Lt. William Green tried to dive through the undercast for cover. However, Erich Scheyda of JG 26 followed the plane down and gave it the final blow.

The bodies of Harry Waskewicz, John Hamilton and Richard Anderegg were recovered near Ouddorp, Holland on 6 February 1944. They were buried on 7 February 1944 in Ouddorp Communal Cemetery.

The body of John Joyce was recovered near Ellemeet, Holland on 5 April 1944 and was buried on 18 April 1944 in Haamstede Cemetery, near Ellemeet.

Adrian Caldwell continues: "My greatest possession is an old brown scrapbook my mother kept containing pictures, letters from the families of the other crew members and the most dreaded paper a family could receive, the telegram that begins, "We regret to inform you.....

I was 20 months old, my mother 22 years old. My Daddy Babe was 26 and considered an "old-timer."


Standing: Jack Jensen, Jack Hamilton, John Joyce, Bill Green
Kneeling: Sanford Tisdale, Richard Anderegg, Roman Beran, Tom Sasser, Harry Waskewicz, and Leroy Leist
(picture courtesy of 100th BG assoc.)


S/Sgt Leroy E. Leist is mentioned on the Margraten Wall of the Missing.

Note: The B17 of Lt. Green and his crew has been located. At this moment families are anxiously awaiting the governments decision whether to salvage the plane and the six remaining airmen


Margraten, The Netherlands

 

Acknowledgements:
Adrian Leist Caldwell, Daughter of S/sgt Leroy E. Leist
Mr. Faley, 100th Bomb Group

Sources:
Awon Website
100th Bomb Group Website

See Also:
1Lt William E. Green
2Lt Jack P. Jensen 
2Lt John J. Joyce 
2Lt John S. Hamilton
S/Sgt Robert W. Valentik
S/Sgt Roman E. Beran
S/Sgt Richard K. Anderegg  
S/Sgt Sanford Tisdale
S/Sgt Harry J. Waskewicz

 

Directions to Margraten American Military Cemetery


If you have any suggestions, comments or additional information, please contact me.

This website is dedicated to the men and women who died and/or are buried in The Netherlands during World War II.

 

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