In Honored Glory!
World War II Honor Roll

William H. Lear

Electrician's Mate, First Class, U.S. Navy



Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: February 17, 1944
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Purple Heart

William H. Lear lived in this house at 1336 Atlantic Avenue, Camden NJ with his parents, Mr. & Mrs. John H. Lear, Sr.

ELECTRICIANS MATE THIRD CLASS WILLIAM H. LEAR was born in 1915 to John and Lillian Lear in New York. By 1920 the Lear family had moved to1209 Haddon Avenue in Camden NJ, where brother Arthur Lear was born. In 1930 the Lear family was living on the 1300 block of Haddon Avenue in Camden NJ. They later moved to 1336 Atlantic Avenue, just off of Haddon Avenue. John Lear worked as a painter for the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, had worked there at the time of both the 1920 and 1930 census, and was still there in February of 1944. William Lear also worked at the shipyard, as an electrician. He joined the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor, in January of 1942. He was one of the honorees when a Service Flag was raised at Norris and Atlantic Streets in Camden on December 6, 1942.

Assigned to the new carrier USS Intrepid, William Lear shipped out for the Pacific on December 3, 1943. He was killed in action in the Pacific on February 17, 1944 when the Intrepid was struck by an aerial torpedo.  He was survived by his parents and brothers John H. Lear Jr. and Arthur Lear. John Lear had recently been discharged from the Army for medical reasons. Arthur Lear was then serving in England as a sergeant in the Army Air Force. John Lear was notified by telegram that his son was lost on February 29, 1944. The death of William Lear was reported in the February 29, 1944 evening edition of the Camden Courier-Post.  

From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, Vol. III, 1968, pp. 446-448.

(CV-11: dp. 27,100; l. 872'; b. 147' 6"; dr. 28' 7"; s. 33 k.;
 cpl. 3,448; a. 12 5", 68 40-mm., over 80 ac.; cl. Essex)

The fourth Intrepid was launched 26 April 1943, by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. John Howard Hoover; and commissioned 16 August, Captain Thomas L. Sprague in command.

After training in the Caribbean Intrepid departed Norfolk 3 December 1943 for San Francisco, then to Hawaii. She arrived Pearl Harbor 10 January and prepared for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the next objective in the Navy's mighty is land-hopping campaign. She sortied from Pearl Harbor with carriers Cabot and Essex 16 January to raid islands at the northeastern corner of Kwajalein Atoll 29 January 1944 and pressed the attack until the last opposition had vanished 2 February. The raids destroyed all of the 83 Japanese planes based on Roi and Namur before the first landings were made on adjacent islets 31 January. That morning Intrepid's planes strafed Ennuebing Island until 10 minutes before the first marin es reached the beaches. Half an hour later that islet, which protected Roi's southwestern flank and controlled the North Pass into Kwajalein Lagoon, was secured, enabling marines to set up artillery to support their assault on Roi.

Her work in the capture of the Marshall Islands finished, Intrepid headed for Truk, the tough Japanese base in the center of Micronesia. Three fast carrier groups arrived undetected daybreak of the 17th, sinking two destroyers and 200,000 ton s of merchant shipping in 2 days of almost continuous attacks. Moreover, the carrier raid demonstrated Truk's vulnerability and thereby greatly curtailed its usefulness to the Japanese as a base.

The night of 17 February 1944 an aerial torpedo struck Intrepid's starboard quarter, 15 feet below her waterline, flooding several compartments and jamming her rudder hard to port. By racing her port screw and idling her starboard engine, Captain Sprague kept her on course until 2 days later strong winds swung her back and forth and tended to weathercock her with her bow pointed [447] toward Tokyo. Sprague later confessed: "Right then I wasn't interested in going in that direction." At this point the crew fashioned a jury-rig sail of hatch covers and scrap canvas which swung Intrepid about and held her on course. Decorated by her crazy-quilt sail, Intrepid stood into Pearl Harbor 24 February 1944.