Obituary Details

Private Edward F. Lee

(03/10/1922 - 01/21/1945)
Courtesy of Johnny & Margaret Thon Files, 02/08/1945

Pvt. Edward F. Lee Missing in Belgium

Thon Book 4
Another Niobrara County man is reported missing.

The Claire E. Lee family of Keeline received word on January 21 that their son, Pvt. Edward F. Lee, had been wounded in Belgium, and was in a hospital. Then on the 2nd of February a letter was received which brought the tragic message that he had been missing since the 21st of December.

The letter reads:

Washington, D. C,
February 1, 1945.

Claire E. Lee,
Keeline, Wyo.

The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regrets that reports now received states your son, Pvt. Edward F. Lee, who was previously reported as wounded in action, has been missing in Belgium. If further details or other information is received, you will be promptly notified.

J. A. ULIO, Adjutant General.

Private Lee enlisted in August 1942. He is a paratrooper and has been overseas twenty-one months. He had been wounded in the invasion in Italy and again just before D-day.

February 22, 1945
The message which brought the sad news to the Clarence Lee family of Keeline that their son, Edward, had been killed in action, was received on Monday evening, February 19th.

On January 21, a telegram was received, stating that their son, Pvt. Edward F. Lee, had been wounded in action, then ten days later another telegram was received saying that their son was reported missing. Now the third message had come bringing the final blow.

The telegram reads as usual:

Washington, D. C.,
Feb. 19, 1945

Clarence E. Lee,
Keeline, Wyo.

The Secretary of War asks that I assure you of his deep sympathy in the loss of your son, Pvt. Edward F. Lee, who was previously reported missing in action. Report now states he was killed in action December 21st, in Belgium. Confirming letter follows.

ULIO, Adj. Gen.

Pvt. Lee, 22, was a member of the famed paratroopers and received his early training in Utah and at Ft. Benning, Georgia. He enlisted in August of 1942. He was born at Keeline, Wyo., in May, 1922, and was a graduate of the Natrona County High School of Casper.

Besides his parents he is survived by two brothers and one sister. The brothers are Donald R., who was in Cheyenne taking his pre-physical induction when the word of his brother's death was received at home.

The sister is Miss Bonita Lee of Manville.

The family is anxiously awaiting the "confirming letter" in the hope that they may know some of the details in which their son gave his life in the service of his country.

November 20, 1947
Remains of Pvt. Edward F. Lee, Killed in Action In Belgium, Will Arrive for Reburial Next Monday

The third of Niobrara county's war heroes to be brought "back home" from overseas - Pvt. Edward F. Lee, son of Clair E. Lee of this city, will arrive next Monday, according to official information received here. It will not be the happy, carefree young man who enlisted in August, 1942, bent on preserving the democratic way of life, but only the remains of one of those brave men who died in the invasion of Belgium.

Reburial services will be conducted, probably Tuesday, with full military honors being accorded the war hero by members of Wieten-Dupes Post No. 4, American Legion. Word of the arrival of the remains was received here today by George Earl Peet, local mortician, and because the family had not yet been notified arrangements for concluding services had not been made as this is written.

Private Lee served with the paratroop forces, and less than a year after he had enlisted, he was sent overseas, serving in the Mediterranean theatre for 13 months before suffering a brain concussion in one of his invasion jumps. Hospitalized for some time, he recovered and was again sent into action, helping to pave the way for ground forces in North Africa, Italy, France, Holland and Belgium.

In January, 1945, relatives were informed that Pvt. Lee had again been wounded in action, and this message was followed by another, received early in February, 1945, that he had been missing in action since December 21st, 1944. Confirmation of his death was officially given by army headquarters late in 1945.

November 27, 1947
Re-Burial Services Held Tuesday For Pvt. Edward F. Lee; Rites Are Under Auspices of Wieten-Dupes Post No. 4

Re-burial services were held at two o'clock Tuesday afternoon, November 25th, for Pvt. Edward F. Lee, son of Clair E. Lee of Lusk, the third of Niobrara county's war heroes to be returned from overseas.

Services under the auspices of the Wieten-Dupes Post No. 4, American Legion were held in the Peet funeral home. The service was read by Rev. Clyde Hampton and Donley Unruh.

A mixed trio, composed of Mesdames Ab DeCastro and C. E. Marvin and Rex Yocum sang "Have Thine Own Way." They were accompanied by Mrs. J. P. Watson. Six members of the Lusk high school band played "Nearer My God to Thee," and "Abide With Me." Serving as pallbearers were Rolla Gagstetter, Frank Kuhn, Ray B. Taylor, Walter Fernau, Bob Chester and Nick Kaan.

Edward F. Lee, the son of Clair E. Lee, was born at Keeline, Wyoming on March 10, 1922. When Edward was still a small child the family moved to Powder River, Wyoming, where he grew to young manhood. He attended grade school at Powder River and graduated from the Natrona County High School at Casper in 1941. On August 4th, he enlisted in the U. S. Army at Cheyenne and was assigned to paratrooper service in which service he was active throughout the war. He was taken overseas on May 8, 1943, serving in Africa, Sicily and on the continent of Europe. He was killed in action in Belgium on January 21, 1945.

Besides his father he is survived by two brothers, Clarence and Don and one sister, Bonnie.

Further information may be found in this Casper Star Tribune feature article, Etched in Stone.

Images & Attachments

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Memorial Marker at Keeline, Niobrara County, Wyoming

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