World War II Honor Roll

Robert F. Regnier

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army


830th Bomb Squadron
485th Bomb Group, Heavy

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: January 20, 1945
Buried at: St Ann's Roman Catholic Cemetery 

                  Lenox MA
Awards: Purple Heart

High School

Philadelphia PA

October 1944

Topeka KS

December 27, 1944

Venosa, Italy

taken after first mission

SECOND LIEUTENANT ROBERT F. REGNIER was born in Massachusetts around 1921 to Leon N. and Florence M. Bradley Regnier. In 1930 the family was living in Pittsfield MA, where his father was the Assistant Supervisor of Mail for the United States Postal Service. The family moved to Atlanta in 1932 when Leon Regnier was appointed as a postal inspector, and then came to the Delaware Valley in 1935 when the elder Regnier was again transferred.  The Regnier family first lived in Philadelphia, anf Robert Regnier graduated from Germantown High School in 1939. The Regnier family moved to Collingswood NJ at some point after his graduation.

After entering military service Robert Regnier qualified for flight duty, and trained as a bomber crew navigator. He went overseas and was assigned to the 15th Air Force. A member of the 830th Bomb Squadron, 485th Bomb Group, Heavy based out of Venosa, Italy. He lost his life on January 20, 1945 while returning from a combat mission to Linz, Austria. Robert Regnier was not flying with his regular crew the day he was lost, but as a substitute navigator. He was flying his second mission when his B-24 ditched in the Adriatic returning from their mission due to engine failure. 

Robert Regnier's body was recovered a few days later on the Italian coast. He was originally interred in Bari, Italy. He was identified by the pilot of his crew in part because he was found with a cigarette case with the initials RFR. The pilot recognized it as belonging to Robert. His father Leon tried unsuccessfully to have it returned to the family for years but to no avail. After much searching the military claimed the case was badly rusted, of zero value and discarded when Robert was buried in Italy. It meant much to the family as Robert was an only child and his parents placed great significance on the item that positively identified their son's remains.

Robert Regnier was returned to the United States in the fall of 1948. He was buried at St Ann's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Lenox MA on November 18, 1948. He now lies next to his father, who died in Florida in April of 1956, and his mother, who joined them in March of 1968. 

Topeka, Kansas - October 1944
Crew photo taken shortly before going overseas.
They arrived in Italy November 1944.
Top row, from Left:
Robert Regnier, bombardier Edward Reifer, Pilot Malcolm Bacon
Click on Image to Enlarge

Venosa, Italy - December 27, 1944
Crew photo taken after their first mission,
against railroad marshaling yards at Maribor, Yugoslavia
Top row, at Left: Robert Regnier
Bottom Row, from Left: Edward Reifer, unknown, Malcolm Bacon
Click on Image to Enlarge

The photo was taken on December 27, 1944 just after the crew returned from their first mission. Their target was the marshalling yards at Maribor, Yugoslavia. The aircraft "LIFE" was named after the magazine and considered a lucky plane to fly. It completed over 100 missions before the war ended.

Robert Regnier is highlighted in the photograph. Most of the men have that far away, war weary look in their eyes. They already seem much older than the young men in the photo taken a few months earlier.  The snow, rain and mud cancelled operations for the rest of December and well in to January. The next mission, on January 20, 1945 would be Robert Regnier's second and last mission

Berkshire Evening Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts - October 15, 1948

Berkshire Eagle - Pittsfield, Massachussets
April 5, 1956

Robert Regnier is remembered today by John Reifer, who assisted with this page.

Edward Reifer

Robert Regnier was the only member from my father's crew that didn't make it home. My father's name was next on the replacement list the day Robert was chosen to fly with another crew ( it was always considered bad luck to fly with another crew, as was sitting out a mission on which the rest of the crew flew ). REG - REI... two letters of the alphabet decided who would fly with another crew on that January day. I have often wondered what type of life Robert would have made for himself had he returned from the war. If his name was spelled REIGNER and he and my father had changed places would he have children or grandchildren asking who Edward Reifer was? I feel I owe it to Robert to make sure his sacrifice isn't forgotten.

My father was shot down while flying with another crew and captured in April 1945. He was liberated by Patton's troops on April 29, 1945 and beat the rest of his crew back to the States. I don't believe he ever saw any of his crew members again. He attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh on the G.I. bill and raised 8 children while working at Penn State University where he was the Comptroller. He died in 1976 at the age of 51. Though he didn't get to see any of his eight of his children graduate from Penn State, I'm sure he would consider it his most enduring legacy.

Thanks for letting me tell their stories,

John Reifer