Ralph E. Freek (1944/01/16)
Finding targets for Ralph to photograph was easy; finding Freek proved more difficult.
Ralph E. Freek was born in Montana in 1921. After moving to Santa Cruz at an early age, he probably lived with his grandmother, Mrs. Switzler and aunt, May Aubrey Morse, who resided in Santa Cruz. Ralph Freek was living in the community in the 1930s and finished Mission Hill Junior High School in 1936. Shortly thereafter he left and moved to Siskiyou County where he completed high school. In 1941 Ralph spent a year at Sacramento Junior College taking a civilian pilot training program while working in the entertainment business.
Ralph Freek enlisted in the Army Air Corps' cadet program on April 3, 1942, and was sent to Santa Ana, California for further training. While flying a training exercise at the Visalia Army Air Force base on May 23, 1942, Ralph was involved in a crash; however, he was allowed to remain in the cadet program. After completing his initial training in October 1942 at Stockton Field, California, Freek received his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant.
In 1943 Lt. Freek was sent overseas and assigned to a photo-reconnaissance group in New Guinea. While flying a mission on January 16, 1944, First Lieutenant Ralph E. Freek was reported missing. The circumstances surrounding his death have not been located, but his remains were later found and interred in the McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, Nebraska.
(USDVA; NARA2; SCSn March 18, 1942 5:1, April 07, 1945 1:2; AAIR)