John W. Neundorfer
Biography: John W. Neundorfer, “Jack”, was born on June 4, 1920, in Bellmore, New York. He was the son of Theodore John Neundorfer and Olga Adilia Smedberg and attended Freeport High School where he captained the golf team for two years and also captained the boxing team, holding both the 118-pound and 126-pound championship titles in 1939.
Jack joined the New York National Guard on November 17, 1938, initially being assigned to Company L of the 14th Infantry. His cousin Ed Johannemann also joined the military at the same time. They both later served in the Headquarters Company of the 102nd Anti-tank battalion.
Service Time: Jack entered WWII service on January 13, 1941, when the 102nd was federalized and became the 802nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. When he left for duty, he was in the middle of his senior year of high school. Jack trained with the unit, which was stationed at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and was then sent for 3-months of radio communications training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Jack returned to Camp Shelby and completed his high school studies at night. He was also in training with the camp’s boxing team. He applied for a position with the radio division of the Army Air Corps and was accepted, being transferred in June of 1942. Jack would become the navigator of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” Bomber and shared in a letter to his family of participating in a mission over the Wilhelshaven base in Germany. He had only been overseas for about a month when the mission took place.
2nd Lt. Jack Nuendorfer was serving in the 364th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 305th Bombardment Group, which was flying out of the RAF (Royal Air Force) Chelveston air station and on November 15, 1943, while participating in a formation training flight, Jack and the crew of their B-17 were involved in a mid-air collision with another B-17. The wreckage came down in Newton Bromwold, which was near the airfield. Sadly all men from both planes were killed or died. The wording of the article about his death states that Jack succumbed to his injuries in the base hospital. In addition to Jack, the names of the other crew members are as follows:
Cpt. Varney Cline – Cmd Pilot, 2nd Lt. Denzel Smith – Co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Randolph B. Lee, Jr.,- Bombardier, 2nd Lt. Leo Ferrara – Engineer/Top turret gunner, TSgt. Fred Clark – Engineer, TSgt. Conley A. Neal – Radio Operator, SSgt. Max E. Caselman – Waist Gunner, SSgt. Clarence “Clarry” O. Anderson – Waist Gunner, SSgt. Spencer Flynn – Gunner and SSgt. Narvle L. Wykle – Gunner.
Jack was initially buried overseas in the Brookwood, London, Cemetery but in July of 1948, his body was brought back to the U.S. and on the 22nd, was buried in the Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, NY. I want to thank Jack’s nephew, John “Jack” Johannemann, who was named after his uncle, for providing the information, photos and documents used in this tribute.