RINNE, WILLIAM HENRY, JR., Staff Sergeant, # 6997742, USAAF
William H. Rinne Jr. was born 23 October 1922 to William Henry Rinne (1900-1967) and Elizabeth Mary (McCloskey) Rinne (1903-1979). Siblings included Marie D. (Rinne) Morrell (1921-1969) and Henry James Rinne (1925-2013). William H. Rinne Jr. lived at 545 W. Somerset St., Philadelphia, with his family, when he first enlisted.
He enlisted first on 10 November 1939 and entered the USAAF on 7 December 1941 and trained as an aerial photographer and gunner on the B-25 Mitchell bomber. He went overseas in March 1943. On 26 February 1944 a B-25H, # 43-4363, departed from the 10th Air Force base at Kurmitola, India, assigned to the 341st Bomb Group, 490th Bomb Squadron, on a combat mission to bomb the enemy bridge at Bawgyo, Burma. At 1337, the aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. The crew were all killed in the crash. He is remembered at the Manila American Cemetery & Mortuary, Philippines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart.
His brother, Henry J. Rinne, born 13 September 1925, served in the U.S. Navy, SR# 2459367, from 16 August 1943 to 15 October 1945. He died 31 October 2013 and is buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Pennsylvania.
On 27 October 1944, a 10th Air Force B-25H, # 43-4382, assigned to the 341st Bomb Group, 490th Bomb Squadron, departed the air base at Morox, Assam Pradish, India. On a bomb-strafe-reconnaissance mission to the enemy held Lashio Road, Burma. It was seen to crash due to a bomb blast or attack by enemy fighter at low altitude. The crew, all of whom were killed, was comprised of:
Pilot 1stLt Willard O. Johnson 0-731921
Navigator 2ndLt Fred V. Cooper J. 0-696663
Engineer Sgt William F. Bickel 15331521
Radio Operator Cpl Harry J. Charbonneau 16136373
Armorer Sgt Dan F. Atkins 38514187
(the enlisted men were also gunners with the aerial browning .50 caliber machine gun)
Witnesses to the crash included: 1stLt Herbert Schwartz, 0-809583, 1stLt Andrew J. Squire, 0-631194, Cpl George E. Kier. No search was conducted.
1stLt Squire reported: 1stLt Johnson made two bomb runs on the road bridge at Lashio, while I strafed for him. After he dropped his bombs, he strafed for me while I dropped my bombs. There were six B-25s all making bomb runs on the bridge. He lost sight of 1stLt Johnson’s aircraft and flew about five miles to the NW to strafe an oil dump he noticed. At about 1130 hours, he started to strafe the oil dump and his radio operator-gunner told him and reported a B-25 had crashed and burned east of the bridge. He turned his B-25 and saw a large flaming mass. He flew directly over the crash and the radio operator took several photographs. When he arrived at the air base, he found out it was 1stLt Johnson’s B-25 that crashed. He did not see the crash and did not know what caused it.