Robert Godfrey Reinhard was born on 17 August 1921, in LaSalle, Illinois, to John and Hannah Medill Reinhard. His parents had been married for 12 years when he was born and already had three other children: Lawrence, Lucile, and John. Robert’s father, John, worked as a shipping clerk for the cement company.
All but one of Robert’s grandparents were no longer living when he was born. So possibly the only grandparent he knew was his maternal grandfather James Medill who lived in LaSalle. James had sailed to American from Scotland in the 1850s and found work as a miner. When Robert was 10 years old, his grandfather passed away from pneumonia.
As a young child, Robert grew up in a house his parents owned at 455 Tenth street in LaSalle, and he attended St. Joseph’s parochial grade school. Through his teen years, Robert went to LaSalle-Peru Township High School. He was active there in sports playing his senior year on the lightweight football squad and participating in track his junior year. He also sang for two years in the mixed chorus. His high school yearbook noted him as “amiable…’sleepy’…intelligent… would become a mechanical engineer…hunts and fishes…thinks book reports a useless task.” During high school, when Robert was 17, his family moved to a home they bought at 631 Ninth street in LaSalle.
After high school graduation, Robert started working at Westclox, a local clock factory. He was working there when he registered for the draft on 16 February 1942. At the time he was 20 years old, he stood 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall and weighed 150 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. Later that year in September Robert enlisted in the Seabees and was called to service in November 1942. According to his obituary, “he received most of his training at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.” After completing boot camp in January 1943, Robert took advantage of a nine-day leave to visit his parents. After leaving home again, he was stationed at Gulfport, Mississippi, for a short time and then sent to Port Hueneme and later San Francisco, California. On 5 March 1943, as part of the 50th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion, Robert left for overseas duty on Midway Island where he served with Company B, Platoon 4 for 13 months.
During this time, his older brother John enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 19 May 1943. Like Robert, John had been working at Westclox. But John had married around the time the draft began in 1940. So based on this and the stamp of “VOC” on his draft card, it seems he entered the Volunteer Officer Candidate program. This program allowed enlistees to become eligible for appointment to an officer candidate school. And if candidates were “not selected to attend school within four months after induction” they could be relieved of duty and returned to civilian status.
In April 1944, Robert was sailing with the 50th to Oahu where they were stationed at a rest camp, but Robert and his platoon were not there to rest—instead they were involved in construction work and battle maneuvers. However, the men were allowed time to explore the islands during their liberty days. Then on 23 October 1944, the 50th along with Robert deployed to Tinian in the Mariana Islands.
There on Tinian, Ship Fitter 3C Robert Reinhard was killed on 8 February 1945, by machine gun fire while serving with the Seabees. He was buried on the island temporarily. In 1948 his body was returned home for burial in St. Vincent Cemetery in LaSalle, Illinois. For his service SF 3C Robert G. Reinhard earned the World War II Victory medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
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SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
You can also access this story at the following sites:
1920 U.S. Census, John Reinhard, Ancestry.
1920 U.S. Census, Edward Franken, Ancestry.
1930 U.S. Census, John Reinhardt, Ancestry.
1940 U.S. Census, John Reinhard, Ancestry.
Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940, Reinhard to Medill, FamilySearch.
Death Certificate, James Medill, 1931, No. 28881, FamilySearch.
U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-2016, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, 1939, p. 86, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Robert Godfrey Reinhard, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, John Kenneth Reinhard, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, John Reinhard, Ancestry.
U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1942, Reinhard, p. 169, Ancestry.
Untitled engagement notice for Madge Vickery and John Reinhard, Bureau County Tribune 9 August 1940, p. 5, Newspapers.com.
“Greater Number of Class III-A May be Officers,” The Jackson Sun, 28 August 1942, p. 2, Newspapers.com.
U.S., Navy Support Books, 1901-1902, 1917-2010, 1945, Patrol Squadron 19, Ancestry.
50th Naval Construction Battalion Historical Information.
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, Robert G. Reinhard, Ancestry.