SSGT Reuben F Baganz


SSGT Reuben F Baganz

Kewaunee, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, USA
Death 24 Dec 1944 (aged 19)
Sprimont, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium
Burial Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Plot Section 3, Site 855-J1
Memorial ID 2550257 View Source
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Staff Sergeant Reuben F. Baganz, Army serial number 16157552, was born at Kewaunee, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin on August 1, 1925. His parents were Reverend Louis William Baganz (29 Mar 1888 – 25 Apr 1975) and Rosalina 'Rose' (Zimmerman) Baganz (23 Jul 1891 – 27 Nov 1975), who were born in Wisconsin and married about 1913. His father was a clergyman in the Lutheran Church. He had three older brothers: Reverend Theophil Adolph Baganz (31 Jul 1914 – 2 Jan 2008); Paul Conrad Baganz (18 Feb 1917 – 21 Nov 2008), who in 1940 was a high school languages teacher; and Carl Louis Baganz (12 Apr 1920 – 10 Apr 2001). In 1930 the family lived at Burlington, Racine County, Wisconsin. In 1940 the family lived at Brodhead, Green County, Wisconsin, where his mother ran a laundry service and his father was a retired minister. By 1942 the family lived at 2902 North 27th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He completed four years of high school, and was single, without dependents, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 28, 1943. His home of record at that time was 2711 West Locust Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

After training, he was assigned as ball turret gunner on the heavy bomber crew of Lt William J. Waldron. The Waldron crew completed B-17 operational training at Ardmore, Oklahoma, and was assigned to the 836th Bomb Squadron of the 487th Bomb Group. This Group was based at Army Air Forces Station 137, near the village of Lavenham, Suffolk, England. The crew arrived at Station 137 by October 19, 1944, and became part of the 8th U.S. Army Air Force in Europe. There is a photo of S/Sgt Baganz and the Waldron Crew at Lavenham posted on the 487th Bomb Group website.

On December 24, 1944, the 8th Air Force launched mission #760, the largest aerial mission of the war, which involved more than 2000 heavy bombers. The mission was to bomb German airfields and supply lines, to stem the German offensive in the Ardennes known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 487th Bomb Group led the entire 8th Air Force that day. Lt Waldron's crew flew B-17G 43-38926 in the number nine position in the Low Squadron of the 487th Bomb Group formation. The Group's target was the airfield at Babenhausen, Germany, but the formation was attacked by German fighters before reaching the target. S/Sgt Baganz and five of his crew mates were killed in action when their aircraft was shot down by German fighters south of Liege, Belgium. Three men were blown clear and survived when the aircraft exploded in the air. The B-17 crashed at Rouvreux, near Sprimont, Belgium, about 15 miles south of Liege. Here is the roster of the Waldron crew on December 24, 1944:

B-17G 43-38926 – 836th Bomb Squadron
• Waldron, William J – 2/Lt – Pilot – Safe
Eshleman, Oscar F – 2/Lt – Copilot – KIA
Shuster, Joseph S – F/O – Navigator – KIA
Neu, Russell C – 2/Lt – Bombardier – Safe
Andrew, Benedict A – S/Sgt – Engineer – KIA
Ferenchak, George J – S/Sgt – Radio operator – KIA
• Baganz, Reuben F – S/Sgt – Ball turret gunner – KIA
• Isley, Eugene S – S/Sgt – Waist gunner – Safe
Naughton, James P – S/Sgt – Tail gunner – KIA

S/Sgt Baganz's remains were returned to the United States after the war, and reinterred at Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois. He is buried in Section 3, Site 855-J1.

1. 487th Bomb Group Association

2. 1930 US Census; Wisconsin; Racine County; Burlington. Baganz, Louis. Apr 1930 (his father)

3. 1940 US Census; Wisconsin; Green County; Broadhead; Decatur Township. Baganz, Rev Louis W. 27 Apr 1940 (father of Reuben F. Baganz)

4. Baganz, Mark T. Personal Communication. 2013 (nephew of Reuben F. Baganz)

5. de Jong, Ivo. The History of the 487th Bomb Group (H). Paducah KY: Turner Publishing, Oct 2004

6. Enlistment Record of Reuben F. Baganz

7. Profiles of Reuben Baganz (1925-1944)

8. Social Security Death Index

9. U.S. Army Air Forces Missing Air Crew Report 11675

10. U.S. Veterans Administration. Nationwide Gravesite Locator

11. U.S. War Department. World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel. Washington, D.C., June 1946

12. World War I Draft Registration of Louis William Baganz. 5 Jun 1917 (his father)

13. World War II Draft Registration of Louis William Baganz. 27 Apr 1942 (his father)

Research by:
Paul Webber
Secretary, 487th Bomb Group Association
Find A Grave member ID 47577572


AUGUST 1 1925
DECEMBER 24 1944

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