Obit: LaFlex, Lt. Leander "Lee" (1919 - 1945)

Contact: Darlene Poppe

----Sources: Unknown newspaper, (19 Jul 1918 - 2 Feb 1945)

LaFlex, Leander "Lee" Leonard

Lieut. LaFlex Dies In Kansas Plane Crash.

On Friday, Feb 2 1945, Lt. Lee LaFlex and another buddy each took a plane up at Dalhart, Texas.

When they left the base there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Then they got into Kansas the sky was full of clouds. Lee and his buddy went into the clouds and kept contacting each other with their radios.

When his buddy could not get and answer from Lee, he looked through the clouds for him; when he couldn't be located, he called back to the base for help. Lee's plane crashed in an open field. It was driven into the ground and was smashed. The only explanation was that after having infection in his throat he must have choked.

The escort who brought Lee's body home said there wasn't another pilot that could handle a plane like Lee could. He also said that Lee had the respect of every man in camp; that they all took their hats off to Lt. LaFlex. He was a pal to everyone from private up. The commanding general sent word to Lee's folks that they had a son to be proud of. It's a deep hurt, that after all he went through on his 98 missions, he had to come home and get killed. But knowing Lee and knowing his love for the sky, we are sure, as long as he had to go, that's the only way he'd want to die, in his plane.

He had a military funeral with the Legion from Woodstock and soldiers from Fort Sheridan participating.

Lee flew P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes. While overseas he has two shot from under him and wore out his third one.

Deceased graduated from Waupaca High School in 1936. April 20, 1941, he married Wilma Luedtke at Woodstock, Ill., who with a six month old daughter survives this tragic death.

Lee entered the Army Air Corps Feb 6 1943; received his wings Nov 3 1943; went overseas in February 1944, completed 98 missions in Italy, France and North Africa; returned home the last of Oct 1944; reported back to Miami, Fla., Nov 25 1944; transferred from there to Louisiana and then to Dalbert, Texas, where he was stationed at the time he was killed; was made flight leader and was due to receive his captain's bars. He had enlisted for overseas duty again and this time he was to be sent to the South Pacific, where he had hoped to settle a few scores with the Japs.

He had been in the hospital with an infection in his throat; had been released from the hospital Jan 2; had made a flight in his plane on Thursday Feb 1. He received his wings at Spence Field, Moultrie, Ga., Nov 3, 1943.

Lieut. Priour of Dalbert, Texas Air Base was the escort who brought Lee's body back home. He was also a pallbearer along with five members of the Legion. Lee was a true friend of the "Old Soldier". He always had a get to gather with the boys whenever he came home for a visit. After returning home from overseas last fall he was awarded the air medal with three oak leaf clusters.

Lee was one of those young fellows who did not come back from the front to display his medals or tell how he made monkeys out of the enemy. He stated that the Nazis were "tough cookies" and when you tackled one of them in a Thunderbird you had to be on the ball or else you would not return to your base.

Lieut. LaFlex is coming back home but not to visit on the home front this time. He has given his life so the others of us might live on and enjoy the freedom of a free America. He had no fear to die for his country. We remember how he talked about seeing his little daughter, Bonnie Lee, who was born last August, for the forst time. He said it was as big a thrill to take her in his arms as to ride throught the sybehind the "stick" of a P-47 Thunderbolt.

Leander in gone but he will live in the memory of the many people who knew him. His carefree way, his kind and pleasing personality, his outward love for his country, will always be remembered by those who knew him. That he gave so much in a few short months in the thick of battle only to return to a peaceful American countryside to die in a plane crash, is just another one of those things that happens wartime. Yes, 1st Lieunt. Leander LaFlex was a real American. We just can't think of him being mustered out.

This was sent to me from Roger LaFlex. He doesn't what paper it was in but he does say the " I don't believe how they said he died passed out. He could not control the plane. He was in the Air Force. He had been up before that. The government sealed all the information for 75 years. His daughter can get all the information then. She will be 75 then."



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