Sgt. Lee Harold Hecht, USAAF, KIA, March 24, 1945Hosted by RootsWeb, the oldest & largest FREE genealogical site. Click here to visit RootsWeb.
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B-24 Liberator bomber

"No man was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." -- Calvin Coolidge

Lee Harold Hecht

Lee H. Hecht, Son of Ruben Hecht. His paternal grandparents were Conrad H. Hecht and Anna Hecht, who came to Comanche County in 1909 from Smith County, Kansas, and were the parents of 11 children. "In World War II, there were ten of C.H. and Anne Hecht's grandsons from Comanche County who served their country in the Air Force, Infantry, Merchant Marines, Navy and Marines. Out of the ten, only one lost his life. Lee Harold Hecht died in 1942, serving in the Air Force." -- Eldon Hecht, Comanche County History, p. 428.

The Western Star, August 18, 1944.
Awarded Air Medal And Oak Leaf Cluster.

S.Sgt. Lee H. HechtAn Eight Air Force Liberator Station England - Sergeant Lee Hecht of Coldwater, Kans. has just been awarded the Air Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster. The citation in part reads as follows: "For meritorious achievement in accomplishing with distinction aerial operational missions over enemy occupied continental Europe. Sgt. Hecht's actions reflect great credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States. Sgt. Hecht had flown twelve missions over the continent, participating in attacks on Criel, St. Gabriel, Conches Laigle, Guer, Oschersieben, Sarrbrucken, Kiel, Munich, Bretigny, and airfields around Paris. He is, at present, serving as waist-gunner on the big "Liberator" "Time's A Wastin'."

Sgt. Hecht has been in the Army eighteen months. He received his gunner's wings at Tyndall Field, Florida, and completed his combat training at Sheppard Field, Texas, and Pueblo, Colorado. His wife, Mrs. Wilana Hecht, and his father, Ruben L. Hecht, live in Coldwater, Kansas.

When Sgt. Hecht was in high school in Coldwater he was an outstanding player on the football and basketball teams all four years. Following his graduation from C. H. S. in May, 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Wichita, December 7, 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor attack. While in basic training at St. Petersburg, Florida, he was in the Army basketball team. At Sheppard Field he was classified as a gunner. He received further training at Tucson, Ariz., Blythe, Calif., and Pueblo, Colo., and after a week or two at Herrington, Kans., flew across, going by way of Brazil and southern Europe to England.

For several weeks he has been attending a special school in England and has completed the course, as well as his 13th mission over Fortress Europe. Lee "has what it takes" and is keeping up the reputation of the Coldwater boys who have the spirit that wins wars and who knock into a cocked hat the Nazi's idea that they are Supermen.

The Western Star , April 13, 1945.
Was on His 25th Mission When His Plane Was Downed.

Mrs. Wilana Orr-Hecht, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. I. Orr of Coldwater, received a telegram from the War Department Wednesday morning stating that her husband, Staff Sgt. Lee Hecht, was missing in action over Germany since March 24.

On March 22 Sgt. Hecht wrote his wife that he had completed his 23d mission that day and would go on his 24th the next day. He was on his 25th mission when his plane failed to return. He wrote that he expected to come home soon after completing his 25th long range mission. Lee has been a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator.

Sgt. Hecht's base had been in England for nearly a year. Last summer he was a warded the Air Medal and an Oak Leaf Cluster for completing 12 missions in the Liberator, "Times A Wastin'," and after several months of special training resumed his flying.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Wichita, December 7, 1942, a year after the Pearl Harbor attack. His father, Reuben Hecht, resides in Coldwater. Sgt. Hecht's many friends and relatives hope to hear of his being found in Germany.

The Western Star, May 10, 1946.
Was on 25th Mission Over Nazis When Downed.

Mrs. Wilana Hecht of Coldwater, wife of Lee H. Hecht, received word from the War Department on March 28 that her husband, Staff Sergeant Lee H. Hecht, who had been listed as missing in action since March 24, 1945, had been declared dead.

We quote as follows:

Dear Mrs. Hecht,
      Since your husband, Staff Sergeant Lee H. Hecht, 17175438, Air Corps, was reported missing in action 24 March 1945, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence. However, as in many cases, the condition of warfare deny us such information. The record concerning your husband shows that he was a crew member aboard a Liberator bomber which participated in an aerial combat mission to Wesel, Germany, on 24 March 1945. This plane was seen to pull up to a steep climb with the bomb bay on fire, flip over on its back and crash at a point about two miles northeast of Wesel. No parachutes were seen leaving the bomber. Your husband has not since been seen or heard from.
      The date of your husband's death has been set as 25 March, 1945, the day following the expiration of twelve months absence.
      I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation. I hope you may find sustaining comfort in the thought that the uncertainty with which war has surrounded the absence of your husband has enhanced the honor of his service to his country and of his sacrifice.Sincerely yours,
EDWARD F. WITSELL, Major Colonel, Adjutant General of the Army.


Lee Harold Hecht, son of Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Hecht of Coldwater, Kansas, was born in Coldwater, January 18, 1924 and attended the Coldwater schools, graduating from Coldwater High School with the class of 1942.

On December 7, 1942, Lee enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Wichita and took most of his flight training in Florida.

On March 5, 1944 he was united in marriage in this city with Miss Wilana Orr, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Orr. She last visited him while he was stationed at the Pueblo, Colo., Air Base.

About two months later Lee was transferred to the Herington, Kansas, Air Base and from there flew with his crew in a B-24 Liberator to England where he was based for nearly a year. He flew with his crew on 12 missions, then flew 12 more missions with another crew as a waist gunner and on his last mission was in his coveted position as flight engineer. He was awarded the Air Medal and an Oak Leaf Cluster for completing the first 12 missions.

On his 25th mission he could have stayed at his base, as he was grounded on account of sinus trouble.

However the fateful long range mission was never completed, as is indicated from the above letter to his wife.

Lee was an outstanding athlete in high school in football, basketball and track and was an exemplary young man with a fine future.

He is survived by his wife, his father, Reuben Hecht, and by three brothers, James Hecht and John Hecht of Coldwater and Seaman 1st Class Roy Hecht of the U. S. Navy; also by one sister, Mrs. Homer Killillay of Phippsburg, Colo., and by many other relatives and friends.

At the time of his death he was 21 years, 2 months and 7 days of age. The surviving relatives have the sincere sympathy of all.

Anna (Meyer) Hecht, paternal grandmother of Lee Harold Hecht.

Conrad H. Hecht, paternal grandfather of Lee Harold Hecht.

Ruben L. Hecht, father of Lee Harold Hecht.

Henry C. Hecht, paternal uncle of Lee Harold Hecht.

Alvin H. Hecht, paternal uncle of Lee Harold Hecht.

The above news articles were transcribed for this site by Shirley Brier.

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