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Captain William C. Gronemeyer
475th Fighter Group "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron "Hades"
P-38 Lightning Pilot

William C. Gronemeyer was born in October 21, 1921 in Brown County, WI. On September 25, 1940 enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) as a private with serial number 16006747 and was assigned to the 28th Composite Group (28th CG), 73rd Bombardment Squadron (73rd BS) in the Aleutians as a tail gunner aboard a bomber.

Wartime History
On October 6, 1942 he reported to flight school and later earned his wings and was commissioned as a Flight Officer with serial number O-888807. Afterwards, sent overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). On June 23, 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades" as a fighter pilot flying the P-38 Lightning in New Guinea and was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and and then to 1st Lieutenant. In New Guinea and the Philippines he flew a total of 135 combat missions totaling over 500 combat hours in New Guinea and Philippines. During 1944 promoted to the rank of Captain.

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Aerial Victory Claims
Gronemeyer was officially credited with four aerial victories between October 15, 1943 to December 6, 1944.

Victory Date Location Aircraft Notes on claim
1 10/15/43     First aerial victory claim.
2 02/03/44     Second aerial victory claim.
3 06/16/44     Third aerial victory claim.
4 12/06/44     Fourth aerial victory claim.

Mission History
On December 31, 1944 at 1:15pm took off from Nadzab Airfield No. 1 piloted P-38H Lightning 42-66562 by Captain William C. Gronemeyer with passenger 1st Lt. Charles W. Springer on a cross country flight bound for Port Moresby. The flight was led by Captain Glenn Perryman with three P-47D Thunderbolts plus this P-38 Lightning.

The weather was 4/10 to 6/10 cumulus and stratocumulus clouds with 12 miles of visibility. At about 1:30pm, the formation leader climbed to 17,000' to avoid weather in the Tsili Tsili area. At 1:35pm, left the formation and headed for a small valley and was still climbing. This aircraft was called to rejoin the formation, but no reply was received. Last seen at approximately 1:45pm climbing on a heading of 220° roughly 17 miles south-southwest of Tsili Tsili over the Banir River. It was believed this P-38 was not carrying any oxygen for the pilot or passenger. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Gronemeyer and Springer were officially declared dead the day of the mission. As the mission was deemed non-combat, neither earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. He was officially declared dead on January 1, 1946. After the recovery of remains, Gronemeyer and Springer were buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in a group burial at section A-14 site 2806.

Gronemeyer earned the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

Mark Gronemeyer (nephew of William Gronemeyer):
"He rose to the rank of Captain and received 7 Air Medals. His plane crashed trying to cross New Guinea on New Years Eve 12-31-44 to attend festivities. The plane was found with the Assistance of Richard Leahy on November 2, 1981. Gronemeyer and Springer are buried at Fort Snelling, MN. I sent extensive information for Possum, Clover & Hades History of the 475th FG in WWII and historian for the P-38 Museum."

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William C. Gronemeyer
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Gronemeyer, William C. page 77 (PDF page 84)
Missing Air Crew Report 11680 (MACR 11680) created January 5, 1945
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William C. Gronemeyer "remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles W. Springer "remains were recovered and identified"
FindAGrave - Capt William C Gronemeyer (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - CPT William C Gronemeyer (Fort Snelling group burial photo)
Thanks to Mark Gronemeyer for additional information

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