LTJG Herschel Allen Oehlert Jr.

LTJG Herschel Allen Oehlert Jr.

Clarke County, Iowa, USA
Death 6 Jul 1943 (aged 23)
At Sea
Cenotaph Woodburn, Clarke County, Iowa, USA
Plot Section 01, Row 03, Headstone 04
Memorial ID 63981406 · View Source
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The Osceola Tribune, Osceola, Iowa
July 13, 1943, Page 1

Report Herschel
Oehlert Missing
In The Pacific

Woodburn Youth lieutenant
In Navy Air

Lieut. Herschel Allen Oehlert, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Herschel Oehlert of near Woodburn, has been reported missing in the Pacific. Word of his loss was received Friday morning in a terse message from the Navy department.

He was a navy flier and had been in the Pacific area for several months. He received his commission and wings at Corpus Christ a little more than a year ago and left for active duty soon after.

Nothing Is known of the action from which he failed to return. Many of the fliers in the Pacific who are forced down before they are able to make their home base or ship, are later found, some on rubber life rafts and some on the thousands of little Islands that dot the area. Therefore relatives and friends hope more favorable news may be received soon.

Mr. and Mrs. Oehlert have two other sons in the service. J. D. is a U. S. Air Corps cadet in training in Oklahoma and Robert who enlisted in the Marines last month.

The Osceola Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa
August 5, 1943, Page 1

Mr. and Mrs. Herschel Oehlert received a letter this week from their son's fiancé in California which she had received from an air force lieutenant in the South Pacific he is a commander of their son, Lieut. Herschel Oehlert, Jr. who is missing in action. The letter said Leut. Oehlert was on a scouting mission when his ship was lost. While gravest fears for his safety were felt, there was still the chance that he and his companions on the bomber had managed to get to land and were now being sheltered by friendly natives.

The Osceola Tribune, Osceola, Iowa
March 28, 1950, Page 7


Lt. Herschel Allen Oehlert

Herschel Allen Oehlert, Jr., son of Herschel A. and Emily Baldwin Oehlert was born Feb. 18, 1920 at Osceola, Iowa and died July 6, 1943 in the service of his country at the age of 23 years, 4 months and 18 days.

He grew to manhood on his fathers farm, south of Woodburn and attended the rural schools of his community and three years at the Woodburn high school. He then attended the Osceola high school one year and graduated there in 1937, taking the Normal course.

Following his graduation from high school, since he planned to enter the teaching profession, he attended Iowa State Teachers' College in Cedar Falls, two years. Then he taught one year in a Clarke county rural school after which he went back to Iowa State teachers' college for another year.

In 1941 he enlisted in the Naval Air Corps Reserve and entered active duty in June of that year, taking his training at Corpus Christi, Texas.

He completed his training there in May, 1942, and was commissioned as Ensign in the Naval Air Corps Reserve, and at that time was home on a short leave.

In June 1942, he was sent overseas with duty at Hawaii and was stationed there about 10 months at which time he participated in the search and rescue of Eddie Rickenbacker and his party who were adrift in the pacific.

In March 1943 he was promoted to Lt. (j.g.) and having learned to fly the B-24 Liberator bombing plane was transferred to Bombing Sqdn. 102 and with that squadron was sent to the South Pacific in April 1943.

They were stationed on Guadalcanal and were ready for combat duty.

On July 6, 1943, the plane on which he was flying with Lt. Comm. Bruce Van Vorhies in command, was sent on a special and lone mission to bomb Greenwich Island, on which the Japs had a weather and radio station, which was a connecting link for their operations in the South Pacific.

It was on this day he and his comrades lost their lives while in performance of their duties. He was reported as missing in action, and his status remained as such until the close of the war in 1945, after which the navy did research in the island and discovered the grave of Unknown American Airmen on Greenwich Island dated July 6, 1943, after which he was officially reported as killed in action.

His body and those of his comrades were moved to a national cemetery on the island of Guam. Later they were moved to Hawaii and January of this year were brought to the United States.

He was buried at 11 a.m. March 15, 1950 at Jefferson Barracks National cemetery, St. Louis, Mo., at a group burial with his comrades.

Military services were held with Catholic and Protestant chaplains officiating.

He leaves to mourn his passing his father and mother, brothers Joe D. Oehlert of Los Angeles, Calif., Robert and William Oehlert of Woodburn, other relatives and a host of friends.

Those attending the services at Jefferson Barracks National cemetery were the immediate family and the following members of the Herndon-Oehlert post No. 157, American Legion, Woodburn: Tom Cottrell, Howard Rogers, Joe Tomlinson, Cecil Davenport, Glen mason, Earnest Smith, Wilbert Smith, Milton Hand, Jesse Jenkins, Earnest Woods, Earnest Carder, Dwight Ewoldsen and Earnest Stearns.

Osceola Sentinel Tribune
April 16, 1992, Page 9

Oehlerts present case to Woodburn Legion

Tonight, brothers Bill, Bob and Joe Oehlert will present the Woodburn American Legion Post No. 157 with a case displaying the WWII medals of their brother, Herschel Oehlert Jr., a navy flier killed in action during the battle of the Solomon Islands in July 1943.

Herschel was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. His plane commander, Lt. Cmdr. Bruce A. Van Vooris, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award in the U.S. military.

"Successful in reaching his objective despite treacherous and varying winds, low visibility and difficult terrain, he fought a lone but relentless battle under fierce antiaircraft fire and overwhelming aerial opposition," reads, Van Voorhis' Medal of Honor citation. "Forced lower and lower by pursuing planes, he coolly persisted in his mission of destruction. Abandoning all chance of a safe return, he executed six bold, grbund level attacks to demolish the enemy ..."

Even close to 50 years after the fact, however, the Oehlert family is quick to remind people Van Voorhis was not the only flier aboard the PB4Y-1 patrol bomber. Oehlert' citation for the Navy Cross reads almost identical to Van Voorhis'. The Oehlert family has continued to ask congressmen and senators to give their brother the same award as the man with whom he flew, fought and died.

"Obviously, no medal is worth losing your life, but when someone gives the supreme sacrifice, it would be nice for the country to recognize it with the highest award possible," said Bill Oehlert.

"I can't understand why one person would be given one award, without the other person being given the same," he said.

In addition to friends, family, and local and district legionnaires, State Legion Commander Edward McGivern will also attend tonight's presentation.

You can read more regarding Herschel Allen Oehlert and the presentation of the Naval Cross at "The Wall of Valor Project,"

Please See Memorial #39934675

Family Members


BORN FEB. 19 1920
JULY 6, 1943

Gravesite Details Buried at # 39934675

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  • Created by: Karen Brewer
  • Added: 9 Jan 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 63981406
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for LTJG Herschel Allen Oehlert Jr. (18 Feb 1920–6 Jul 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 63981406, citing Woodburn Cemetery, Woodburn, Clarke County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Karen Brewer (contributor 46823815) .