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1LT John Marshall Mendinhall II
Cenotaph

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1LT John Marshall Mendinhall II

Birth
Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death
31 May 1945 (aged 24)
At Sea
Cenotaph
Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Memorial ID
28620823 View Source

John Marshall Mendinhall, II was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on April 23, 1921. He was the son of Edward Mendinhall (an engineer and later executive at a number of companies) and Dorothy Mendinhall (née Bleezarde). Mendinhall was named after his grandfather, the lieutenant governor of Delaware during 1909–1913. He had a younger sister, Dorothea.

By the time the 1930 census was recorded, the family had moved to 1606 Rodney Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Mendinhall attended the Wilmington Friends School, graduating in 1939. Mendinhall was close to a classmate, Anne "Nancy" Jessup (later Anne Jessup Edgar Wells). Her obituary stated that at Friends School, "she fell in love with John Mendinhall, who shared her passion for horses, tennis, and flying." (Mendinhall reportedly had his pilot's license before joining the military.)
The April 5, 1940 census showed the Mendinhall family living at Chicken Alley in Rockland. Chicken Alley refers to a set of rowhomes attached to the Lower Louviers mansion (located across Brandywine Creek from the Hagley Museum). Mendinhall attended at least one year at Guilford College in North Carolina. Guilford, like his high school, was a Quaker school. It is unclear where he spent his sophomore year, but by time he registered for the draft on February 16, 1942 during his junior year, Mendinhall was a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

During his junior year of college, on April 23, 1942, Mendinhall enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in New York City. Appointed a seaman 2nd class, he was on inactive duty until he began Pre-Flight School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on July 9, 1942. He was appointed to the rating of aviation cadet on August 4, 1942, continuing his training at the U.S. Naval Air Training Center Corpus Christi, Texas.

Mendinhall was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at Corpus Christi on July 17, 1943. He reported to the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida on July 23, 1943, where he continued training until September 21. During the following year, he served at several installations, primarily Cherry Point, North Carolina and Parris Island, South Carolina. Mendinhall was promoted to 1st lieutenant on June 1, 1944, with an effective date of rank of May 31, 1944.

On November 16, 1944, when he was dispatched to the Marine Corps Air Depot Miramar, near San Diego, California. Although Lieutenant Mendinhall apparently had two weeks of leave before reporting for duty on the West Coast, he wasn't able to see Anne Jessup, who that same day had begun boot camp in the Navy's women's auxiliary, known as the W.A.V.E.S.

1st Lieutenant Mendinhall arrived in Miramar, California on December 1, 1944. Later that month, on December 26, 1944, he was assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 441 (VMF-441), Marine Aircraft Group 31. At the time, Marine Aircraft Group 31 was stationed at Roi-Namur island in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. Mendinhall shipped out from San Diego, arriving in Majuro, Marshall Islands on January 12, 1945. Mendinhall arrived on Roi-Namur a few days later.

Equipped with the Vought F4U Corsair, VMF-441 was operating against bypassed Japanese outposts in the Marshall Islands. Lieutenant Mendinhall's first mission was against Taroa in the Maloelap Atoll on February 28, 1945.

On March 8, 1945, Lieutenant Mendinhall departed Roi-Namur aboard U.S.S. LST-781, en route to the Ryukyu Islands. VMF-441 went ashore at Okinawa on April 4, 1945, the fourth day of the invasion. Flying out of a captured Japanese airfield referred to as Yontan Field, VMF-441's missions were for the most part a mixture of combat air patrols, ground attack, and radar picket patrols.

During the latter type of mission, the Marine aviators defended the vulnerable radar picket ships, typically destroyers, with lighter vessels in support. These ships were stationed well offshore from Okinawa and provided early warning of inbound Japanese aircraft, but frequently came under attack themselves. The enemy launched conventional air raids as well as suicide attacks (the infamous kamikazes) from the Kyushu and Formosa (Taiwan). On April 16, 1944, VMF-441 responded when the U.S.S. Laffey (DD-724) came under attack by a large group of Japanese aircraft, sustaining multiple bomb and kamikaze hits. The squadron claimed 15½ enemy aircraft in the ensuing aerial engagement.

Lieutenant Mendinhall was credited with shooting down a Kawasaki Ki-61 (known to the Allies as the "Tony") while flying an F4U-1C during a combat air patrol sortie on May 18, 1945. During the engagement, five Marine pilots claimed a total of four Japanese planes shot down and one probably shot down, without loss to the Americans. The citation for a gold star (in lieu of a seventh Air Medal) awarded to Lieutenant Mendinhall stated in part:

"Vectored to intercept a force of hostile planes proceeding against friendly patrol craft operating in the area, First Lieutenant Mendinhall launched his attack immediately upon contact and, firing his deadly bursts of 20-mm. ammunition into the right wing, oil cooler and fuel tank of one of the five attacking enemy, blasted him into the sea in flames."

Mendinhall flew over 30 combat missions during his career. The last was a radar picket patrol to the area east of Okinawa on May 31, 1945. During a radar picket patrol that afternoon about 40 miles east of Okinawa, Lieutenant Mendinhall's Corsair and another piloted by 1st Lieutenant Bonneville Smith collided. Both men were killed.

1st Lieutenant Mendinhall was posthomosly awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and six gold stars in lieu of a total of seven Air Medals.

Beginning in 1946 and continuing to the present day, the Friends School has bestowed upon a graduating senior the John Marshall Mendinhall II Memorial Award, "Given by his own class of 1939 in recognition of high ideals and his service to Friends School, awarded to that member of the graduating class who is considered to have done the most for the school."

Over the years, Lieutenant Mendinhall's parents and sister frequently attended the award ceremonies. Lieutenant Mendinhall remains on a list of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency list of World War II servicemembers whose bodies were not recovered.

(Information developed through the research efforts of Lowell Silverman, #49905152)

John Marshall Mendinhall, II was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on April 23, 1921. He was the son of Edward Mendinhall (an engineer and later executive at a number of companies) and Dorothy Mendinhall (née Bleezarde). Mendinhall was named after his grandfather, the lieutenant governor of Delaware during 1909–1913. He had a younger sister, Dorothea.

By the time the 1930 census was recorded, the family had moved to 1606 Rodney Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Mendinhall attended the Wilmington Friends School, graduating in 1939. Mendinhall was close to a classmate, Anne "Nancy" Jessup (later Anne Jessup Edgar Wells). Her obituary stated that at Friends School, "she fell in love with John Mendinhall, who shared her passion for horses, tennis, and flying." (Mendinhall reportedly had his pilot's license before joining the military.)
The April 5, 1940 census showed the Mendinhall family living at Chicken Alley in Rockland. Chicken Alley refers to a set of rowhomes attached to the Lower Louviers mansion (located across Brandywine Creek from the Hagley Museum). Mendinhall attended at least one year at Guilford College in North Carolina. Guilford, like his high school, was a Quaker school. It is unclear where he spent his sophomore year, but by time he registered for the draft on February 16, 1942 during his junior year, Mendinhall was a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

During his junior year of college, on April 23, 1942, Mendinhall enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in New York City. Appointed a seaman 2nd class, he was on inactive duty until he began Pre-Flight School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on July 9, 1942. He was appointed to the rating of aviation cadet on August 4, 1942, continuing his training at the U.S. Naval Air Training Center Corpus Christi, Texas.

Mendinhall was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at Corpus Christi on July 17, 1943. He reported to the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida on July 23, 1943, where he continued training until September 21. During the following year, he served at several installations, primarily Cherry Point, North Carolina and Parris Island, South Carolina. Mendinhall was promoted to 1st lieutenant on June 1, 1944, with an effective date of rank of May 31, 1944.

On November 16, 1944, when he was dispatched to the Marine Corps Air Depot Miramar, near San Diego, California. Although Lieutenant Mendinhall apparently had two weeks of leave before reporting for duty on the West Coast, he wasn't able to see Anne Jessup, who that same day had begun boot camp in the Navy's women's auxiliary, known as the W.A.V.E.S.

1st Lieutenant Mendinhall arrived in Miramar, California on December 1, 1944. Later that month, on December 26, 1944, he was assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 441 (VMF-441), Marine Aircraft Group 31. At the time, Marine Aircraft Group 31 was stationed at Roi-Namur island in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. Mendinhall shipped out from San Diego, arriving in Majuro, Marshall Islands on January 12, 1945. Mendinhall arrived on Roi-Namur a few days later.

Equipped with the Vought F4U Corsair, VMF-441 was operating against bypassed Japanese outposts in the Marshall Islands. Lieutenant Mendinhall's first mission was against Taroa in the Maloelap Atoll on February 28, 1945.

On March 8, 1945, Lieutenant Mendinhall departed Roi-Namur aboard U.S.S. LST-781, en route to the Ryukyu Islands. VMF-441 went ashore at Okinawa on April 4, 1945, the fourth day of the invasion. Flying out of a captured Japanese airfield referred to as Yontan Field, VMF-441's missions were for the most part a mixture of combat air patrols, ground attack, and radar picket patrols.

During the latter type of mission, the Marine aviators defended the vulnerable radar picket ships, typically destroyers, with lighter vessels in support. These ships were stationed well offshore from Okinawa and provided early warning of inbound Japanese aircraft, but frequently came under attack themselves. The enemy launched conventional air raids as well as suicide attacks (the infamous kamikazes) from the Kyushu and Formosa (Taiwan). On April 16, 1944, VMF-441 responded when the U.S.S. Laffey (DD-724) came under attack by a large group of Japanese aircraft, sustaining multiple bomb and kamikaze hits. The squadron claimed 15½ enemy aircraft in the ensuing aerial engagement.

Lieutenant Mendinhall was credited with shooting down a Kawasaki Ki-61 (known to the Allies as the "Tony") while flying an F4U-1C during a combat air patrol sortie on May 18, 1945. During the engagement, five Marine pilots claimed a total of four Japanese planes shot down and one probably shot down, without loss to the Americans. The citation for a gold star (in lieu of a seventh Air Medal) awarded to Lieutenant Mendinhall stated in part:

"Vectored to intercept a force of hostile planes proceeding against friendly patrol craft operating in the area, First Lieutenant Mendinhall launched his attack immediately upon contact and, firing his deadly bursts of 20-mm. ammunition into the right wing, oil cooler and fuel tank of one of the five attacking enemy, blasted him into the sea in flames."

Mendinhall flew over 30 combat missions during his career. The last was a radar picket patrol to the area east of Okinawa on May 31, 1945. During a radar picket patrol that afternoon about 40 miles east of Okinawa, Lieutenant Mendinhall's Corsair and another piloted by 1st Lieutenant Bonneville Smith collided. Both men were killed.

1st Lieutenant Mendinhall was posthomosly awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and six gold stars in lieu of a total of seven Air Medals.

Beginning in 1946 and continuing to the present day, the Friends School has bestowed upon a graduating senior the John Marshall Mendinhall II Memorial Award, "Given by his own class of 1939 in recognition of high ideals and his service to Friends School, awarded to that member of the graduating class who is considered to have done the most for the school."

Over the years, Lieutenant Mendinhall's parents and sister frequently attended the award ceremonies. Lieutenant Mendinhall remains on a list of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency list of World War II servicemembers whose bodies were not recovered.

(Information developed through the research efforts of Lowell Silverman, #49905152)


Inscription

1st LT. UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS DIED IN THE SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY AT SEA OFF OKINAWA ISLAND RYUKYU ISLANDS MAY 31


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