LCDR Lee Coleman McCleary

LCDR Lee Coleman McCleary

Birth
Utah, USA
Death 10 Jan 2011 (aged 90)
Contra Costa County, California, USA
Burial Fairfield, Solano County, California, USA
Plot IOOF Plot 46 Grave 6
Memorial ID 64818355 · View Source
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LCDR US NAVY
WWII
BATTLE OF MIDWAY
Lester "Lee" McCleary and Jessie Blanche Lees were married on 24 Dec 1916 in Hillyard, Spokane, WA. They were the parents of at least three children; Lillian, Lee Coleman, and Glen McCleary.
Lester "Lee" McCleary and Jessie Blanche Lees were married on 24 Dec 1916 in Hillyard, Spokane, WA. They were the parents of at least three children; Lillian, Lee Coleman, and Glen McCleary.

Lee Coleman McCleary enlisted as a Seaman 2/c in the US Naval Reserve V-5 aviation program on 17 Feb 1941 in Oakland, CA . He reported to the Naval Air Station (NAS), Jacksonville, FL on 05 May 1941 from the Naval Reserve Air Base, Oakland, CA after successfully completing his elimination flight training. On 12 May 1941 he was transferred to the NAS Corpus Christi, TX where he became an aviation cadet on 15 May 1941. He was commissioned an Ensign and earned his pilot designation about 01 Oct 1941. After additional aviation training he was assigned to Patrol Squadron 44.

Patrol Squadron Forty-four (VP-44) departed from the Naval Air Station, Alameda, CA for Pearl Harbor, T.H., in two divisions of six planes each. The first of these left the United States on March 26, 1942. The second, because of unfavorable weather, delayed its departure until April 12. Ordered to Midway for extended operations, PATRON 44 arrived at Eastern Island on the 22nd of May and began long range reconnaissance flights on 27 May. During the first few days of June 1942, the VP-23 and VP-44 PBYs based at Midway flew long patrols over the trackless ocean, searching for signs of enemy shipping. Then on 3 Jun came the first surface contact reports from the VP-23 PBY searchers. The following day, 04 Jun 1942, pilot Lt. (j.g.) Robert S. Whitman and his PBY-5A Catalina from VP-44 were airborne again when he reported contact at 0925 with enemy ships (probably the Japanese Occupation Force), antiaircraft fire, and that his aircraft was being "opposed by two enemy observation planes." Japanese Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0 floatplanes from the seaplane carrier Chitose had attacked Ltjg Whitman's Catalina about 340 miles west of Midway. During the attack Whitman and four other crewmen were killed and one mortally wounded, and the plane set afire. AOM2c Philip L. Fulghum, the PBY’s bow gunner, continued to man his .50-caliber machine gun, and sent one of the attackers away trailing smoke. On his own initiative, with a crash imminent, Fulghum released the plane’s two 500-pound bombs. After the crash, AMM1c Virgil Ruel Marsh, despite the roaring flames, freed a rubber boat from the plane, which AMM2c John C. Weeks repaired. Fulghum then assisted the wounded into the raft. Several days later, June 6, 1942, a PBY commanded by Ltjg Norman Bradley located the five men in the raft. He safely picked them up and returned them to Midway. Ensign Camp died on Midway of his wounds on 07 Jun 1942. After the battle of Midway Patrol Squadron 44 returned to Pearl Harbor on 09 Jun 1942. Ensign McCleary was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for wounds he received in combat on 04 Jun 1942. He was promoted to Ltjg on 01 October 1942, to Lieutenant on 01 Oct 1943, and then to Lieutenant Commander on 03 Oct 1945. He retired from the Navy on 31 July 1967 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
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The crew of 44-P-12 (call sign 8V55) - PBY

ACRM James W. Adams, (Radio Operator)
(KIA-Drowned after clearing downed aircraft)
Ens Jack H Camp (Observer) (Died of Wounds 7 Jun 1942)
Philip L. Fulghum, AOM2, (Bombarier/Bow gunner) (WIA - exposure)
Virgil R. Marsh, AMM1, (Flight Engineer) (WIA - exposure)
Ensign Lee Coleman McCleary (Navigator) (WIA)
Ensign Walter H. Mosley, (Co-pilot) (KIA)
Norby, Clarence J. Jr. AMM3c (Gunner) (KIA)
RM3c William H. O'Farrell, (Gunner)(KIA)
Weeks, John C. AMM2c (Gunner) (WIA)
Lt.(jg) Robert S. Whitman, (Pilot) (KIA)
Ensign Lee Coleman McCleary (Navigator) (WIA)
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[bio compiled by G47]
Aged 90 years.


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  • Created by: Grave Finder
  • Added: 28 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64818355
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for LCDR Lee Coleman McCleary (17 Apr 1920–10 Jan 2011), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64818355, citing Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery, Fairfield, Solano County, California, USA ; Maintained by Grave Finder (contributor 21319783) .