August’s featured WWII veteran is Raymond Arendell. If you are a member of the VFW you may recognize the name as the VFW Post 2280, located in Bellevue, is known as the Ray Arendell post.
Ray was born in 1922 in Nebraska to Cecil Arendell. Like so many other men of his generation, Cecil was also World War I veteran. The details of Ray’s early childhood are somewhat of a mystery. What is known is that Ray’s parents were divorced early in his childhood. For an unknown reason, he was sent to live in the German Lutheran Orphans Home in Fremont, Nebraska. This was despite the fact that his father was living in Bellevue where he worked as a mechanic, carpenter, and…a bootlegger. Ray moved back in with his father by 1940. However, by this time Cecil was unable to work for reasons unknown.
In August of 1940, more than a year before the United States declared war on Japan and the rest of the Axis powers, Ray enlisted in the military. According to his enlistment record, he managed to graduate high school despite his father’s unemployment. He may have balanced work with student life as his enlistment record also indicates that he had a work experience as a mechanic. Ray was just 18.
Corporal Arendell was a flight engineer for a B-29 Marauder, a part of the 22nd Bomber Group assigned to the 33rd Bombing Squadron. On May 28, 1942 the crew of that marauder was one of several bombers sent to attack Lae Airfield in Papau New Guinea. As they neared their target, the plane was hit by a Japanese bomber. The pilots, 1st Lt. Spears Lanford and 2nd Lt. John Moore, managed to land the plane on water. Some of the crew was spotted on the wings of the plane by the crew of another Allied bomber, but despite searches of the area the crew was never seen again. There was no evidence that the Arendell or any of his crew, were captured by the Japanese. All members were declared in Killed in Action. Their names appear on the Tablets of the Missing in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Corporal Arendell was awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart.
His father, Cecil Arendell died twenty years later on October 27, 1962. Cecil is buried in the Bellevue Cemetery.
This post will be updated at a later time with additional information as a World War II researcher is working on obtaining his records for us. Meanwhile, if you have any additional information or pictures of Ray Arendell or his father Cecil, please contact the museum.