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Captain William Reitz

 

Reitz William portrait

Was born June 17, 1915. His next of kin were his parents, Jacob and Katherine Reitz, and his brother, James Reitz.
He joined the Army Air Forces in 1941 and served with the 344th Bomber Group, 496th Bomber Squadron. On September 23, 1944, he was serving as the Copilot aboard “Evasive Jenny,” B-26 tail #42-107619, of the 344th Bomb Group (M), 496th Bomb Squadron (M), when it went down over Horst, Holland. MACR 9734. Captain Reitz was killed in action in the Netherlands on September 23, 1944 and is buried at the American War Cemetery Margraten.

Crew:

PILOT – 1st Lt. John Bernard Hegg, Jr 0-799689 (bailed out, POW)
COPILOT – Capt. William Reitz 0-429852 (killed when his parachute failed to open)
BOMBARDIER- 2nd Lt. Reginald Eular McNeil 0-681932 (bailed out, evaded capture)
RADIO/GUN – T/Sgt. Thomas Cullen Wilcox 35602123 (bailed out, evaded capture)
ENG/GUN – S/Sgt. Bruno John Liptak 36363500 (bailed out, evaded capture)
TAIL/GUN – Pvt. Orville Maurice Riggs 20821452 (bailed out, POW)

According to the 344th Spreadsheet: 42-107619  Ill Wind II / Evasive Jenny  N3-N

Assigned to the 344th BG. Shot down by flak on the 23/9/44 mission to Venlo Marshalling yards, Holland. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. John Bernard Hegg, Jr was hit by flak just before reaching the target, knocking out the right side engine. It pulled out of formation just before reaching the target with the engine on fire. All the crew bailed out, but the co-pilot Capt. William Reitz was killed when his parachute failed to open. Aircraft crashed near Horst, Holland. This aircraft should be named “Ill Wind II”, according to Tom Wilcox’s book “One Mans Destiny”, but according to the records it was renamed, and the MACR states the aircraft was named “Evasive Jenny”.

According to 344th Silver Streaks p35 On Sept. [23, 1944 ] “We were able to attack the Venlo marshalling yard but we unable to attack our objective. This mission was hotly contested by the enemy and three of the 36 planes dispatched were lost to enemy action, 18 of the personnel in these planes placed on a missing status and 16 planes damaged, causing minor repairs to be made.”

.B0294 p1166 Form Sept 23, 1944 Hegg:Reitz

.According to the formation diagram above for the fateful day of Sept. 23, 1944, Hegg, Reitz, and crew flew in the position 1-1-4. See red asterisk.

.B0294 p1167 LL Hegg:Reitz Sept 23, 1944

.According to the load lists above, Hegg, Reitz,McNeil, Liptak, Wilcox, and Riggs flew plane 42-107619 Ill Wind III but were shot down over the target area.

B0294 Sept 23, 1944 Hegg:Reitz Map p1165

The above is a map of te route to the target.

For more and official details see PDF personnel file:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GAC9w7T7Ll1Fgj-8G8lXKZ6Pg3YFkePA/view?usp=sharing

Witness Stements as per MCR:

MACR Statement: Witnesses of crash Harry Dahlheimer, Edward P. Foote, Robert Mitchell Jr. Saw 2 chutes leave the ship. Saw no persons walk away from scene of the crash. When last seen plane seemed to be under control, on a 330˚ heading. Plane was losing altitude.

MACR Statement by 2nd Lt. Reginald E. McNeil: “Sept 23, 1944 crash location 8 miles North of Venlo, Holland “When I bailed out at 8-10,000 ft., the plane had considerable flak damage – ship on fire.The plane exploded on striking the ground.”

MACR Statement by T/Sgt. Thomas C. Wilcox: “Sept 23, 1944 1800 hrs crash location Teenray (Venray?) “When I bailed out at 9,000 ft., the plane was on fire and controls were damaged; left engine out. No one was injured before the crash. All bailed out and all but Reitz chute opened. I was with McNeil throughout the stay in Holland. We were told by members of the organization that co-pilot  was dead and that the pilot was in safe hands not far from us. I did not examine the wreckage of the plane. We were told by the underground that tail-gunner and co-pilot were in safe hands and were later told they tried to go through the lines and were picked up by the Germans.”

MACR Statement by 1st Lt. John Bernard Hegg, Jr: “Sept 23, 1944 crash location near Horst, Holland. I delayed bail out until 1500 ft., the plane had considerable flak damage – ship on fire.

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William “Bill” Reitz was a UCLA Bruin athlete and had won the National Amateur Athletic Union javelin throwing championship in 1937 with a throw of 224 feet. He was also a star forward on the UCLA Bruins basketball team.

William Reitz sports

Links:

https://www.fieldsofhonor-database.com/index.php/en/american-war-cemetery-margraten-r/57448-reitz-william

http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/19926