2d Lt Samuel Gordon Leftenant
March 16, 1924 – April 12, 1945
Class 44-H-SE
Graduation Date: September 8, 1944
Graduation Rank: 2d Lt
Unit: 332nd Fighter Group, 99th Fighter Squadron
Service # O-838032

Of Amityville, New York, Sam was the seventh of the 13 children, and one of six boys — all of whom served in World War II.

Samuel graduated from flight training on Sept. 8, 1944, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and soon deployed to Italy with the 99th Fighter Squadron 332nd Fighter group.

On April 12, 1945, four weeks before World War II ended in Europe, 2nd Lt Leftenant and fellow P-51 pilot Lt. James L. Hall Jr., his flight leader, were escorting a formation of American bombers on a mission to Germany.

They had left Ramitelli air base in Italy. Fellow Tuskegee pilot, and Leftenant’s buddy, George E. Hardy, 19, of Philadelphia, was flying another P-51 nearby.

It was Leftenant’s third mission, his family said. He had been overseas less than three months.

Shortly after 3 p.m., Hardy glanced off to his right and saw something sparkling near Leftenant’s fighter.

Hall’s plane and Leftenant’s plane had collided, and “the prop chewed part of the other airplane, which caused all this aluminum” to fly off, Hardy said.

Hardy said he saw Leftenant’s aircraft start to go down but couldn’t stop to help and witnessed nothing more. “Last I saw of him,” he said.

Hall and Leftenant both bailed out. Hall was captured and held as a prisoner of war until the war ended.

Leftenant transmitted that he could not keep his plane up very much longer, and asked for instructions, 1st Lt. Wendell M. Lucas wrote in a military report. Maj. William Campbell instructed him to fly as far east as possible. The plane seemed to be under control.

Leftenant was never seen again. He was reported “Missing-In-Action” on April 12, 1945 and was declared dead in 1946.

On Thursday, January 14, 2016, his surviving sisters, Nancy Leftenant-Colon, 95, Clara Leftenant-Jordan, 80, Mary E. Leftentant, 87, and Amy M. Leftenant, 82, gathered in Arlington National Cemetery to finally give Sam his goodbye.

A full military honors memorial service for 2nd Lt Leftenant was held in Memorial Section K, as Air Force jet fighters streaked overhead in salute, the sisters assembled before an elegant horse-drawn caisson that arrived to the sound of a single muffled drum and the cadenced step of an Army casket team.

The caisson carried a silver ceremonial coffin that was empty, except for an American flag. The family sat not far from Sam’s memorial tombstone, beneath which there is no grave. But a rifle party fired a salute, a bugler sounded taps, and 70 years after Samuel G. Leftenant vanished into the mountains near a place called Klagenfurt, his family could let him go.

Leftenant’s name is included on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy. He also has a headstone back home in Amityville, N.Y.

He was awarded an Air Medal and a Purple Heart for his military service.

Sources:

 

 

Share:

More Posts

Charles Bussey

Charles Bussey April 23, 1921 – October 26, 2003 Class: 43-E-SE Graduation date: 5/28/1943 Rank at time of graduation: 2nd Lt Service # 0804548 Unit: 332nd Fighter Group From: Los Angeles CA “His mother worried

Read More »

Betty Jane Williams

Betty Jane “BJ” Williams 1919 – December 8, 2008 Class: 44-W-6 Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.) Assigned Bases: Randolph Army Air Base (San Antonio, Tex.) Planes flown: PT-17, BT-13, AT-6, AT-7, PT-19 Since no

Read More »

Kathryn Stark Gunderson

Kathryn Stark Gunderson 1916 – February 12, 2019 Class: 43-W-5 Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.) Assigned Bases: Romulus Army Air Base (Mich.) Planes flown: PT-19 and AT-6 Gunderson had a lifelong interest in aviation,

Read More »

Caryl W. Jones Stortz

Caryl W. Jones Stortz January 1, 1918 – February 24, 2009 Class: 43-W-5 Training Location: Avenger Field (Sweetwater, Tex.) Assigned Bases: Camp Davis Army Air Field (N.C.) Planes flown: PT-17, AT-6, A-24, A-20 Caryl “Suds”

Read More »

Send Us A Message