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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Recke

Birthplace: Kansas City, Jackson, MO, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: William

Date of Birth: 01 September 1919

Date of Death: 05 June 1943 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 04 June 1942

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1939-1943

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Charles William was the son of Frank Charles Recke and Bessie Marie (Jarman) Welch who married before Sept 1918. His siblings (all born in Kansas City, MO) were; Ella Mae (Lampson), Ferdinand L. (died young), and Virginia L. Recke (Proctor). Frank and Bessie were divorced prior to 1942.

Charles W. Recke, born in Kansas City, MO in Sep 1919, enlisted as a Private in the US Marines on 15 Sept 1939 at the DHS Kansas City, MO. He left the same day for the Recruit Depot, Marine Corps Base (MCB), San Diego. He arrived on 18 Sep 1939 at the Recruit Depot Detachment, Recruit Depot (RD), MCB, San Diego. During recruit training, Pvt Recke qualified as a marksman on 12 Oct. 1939. Pvt Recke completed his recruit training and was transferred to the 2nd MarAirCraft Grp, at San Diego on 04 Nov 1939. On 01 Jan 1940 Pvt Recke was transferred to the Marine Scouting Sq Two (VMS-2), 2d MarAirGrp, San Diego. Shortly after his transfer Recke became ill and was sick in quarters (SIQ) for several days before being sent to the USNH, San Diego for almost three weeks to recover. Cause of the illness is unknown.

Pvt Recke was promoted to Private First Class on 09 Dec 1940. Sometime between 01 Apr 1941 and 01 July 1941 Recke was transferred to Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231), 2d Marine Aircraft Group stationed at Ewa, Oahu, T.H. On 25 July 1941 Recke was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Sgt Recke was embarked on the USS Thornton (AVD-11) and sailed for Midway Island from Pearl Harbor on 07 Jan 1942. He was with a large contingent of enlisted and officer Marines going to Midway. On 01 April 1942 Sgt Recke was detailed as an aviation gunner now with Marine Scout-Bombing Sq. 241 (VMSB-241), MAG-22 stationed on Midway Island. Sgt Recke became the gunner for Second Lieutenant Thomas Gratzek. They initially flew the older Vought SB2U Vindicator Dive Bomber.

In late May the squadron received a delivery of several newer dive bombers, the Douglas Dauntless SBD-2. Lt Gratzek and Sgt Recke were assigned one of these Dauntless aircraft. They were in Capt. Armand DeLalio's third division, and they had only days to practice with their new aircraft. On the morning of 04 Jun 1942 elements of Marine Air Group 22 took off from the Naval Air Station on Midway to attack the Japanese Strike Force that was approaching Midway. After a relatively uneventful flight to locate their targets the Marines found themselves beset by numerically superior Japanese fighter aircraft as they approached the Japanese carriers. One by one seven of the Marine bombers were shot down. Lt Gratzek and Sgt Recke were reported as missing in action on 04 Jun 1942. Their remains were unrecoverable. They were declared presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943.

Sgt Recke was awarded (posthumously) the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation w/ribbon, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze battle star, and the World War II Victory Medal.


Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Charles William Recke, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Radioman-Gunner in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE, during the Battle of Midway, 4 and 5 June 1945. In a determined attack against the invading Japanese Fleet, Sergeant Recke, serving as rear-seat free machine-gunner, maintained fire in the face of overwhelming enemy fighter opposition and fierce anti-aircraft barrage. Because of circumstances attendant upon this engagement, there can be little doubt that he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 311 (February 1943)


The Presidential Unit Citation awarded to members of Marine Air Group Twenty Two (MAG-22) reads:

Marine Air Group 22 Presidential Unit Citation:

"For conspicuous courage and heroism in combat at Midway Island during June 1942. Outnumbered five to one, Marine Aircraft Group 22 boldly intercepted a heavily escorted enemy bombing force, disrupting their attack and preventing serious damage to island installations. Operating with half of their dive-bomber's obsolete and in poor mechanical conditions, which necessitated vulnerable glide bombing tactics, they succeeded in inflicting heavy damage on Japanese surface units of a large enemy task force. The skill and gallant perseverance of flight and ground personnel of Marine Aircraft Group 22, fighting under tremendously adverse and dangerous conditions were essential factors in the unyielding defense of Midway."

Sgt Recke's family received a commemoration from President Roosevelt. It reads: In grateful memory of Charles W. Recke, United States Marine Corps, who died in the service of his country at Midway Islands, 5 June 1943 (Presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives – in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

(signed), Franklin D Roosevelt

President of the United States of America


Combat Action Ribbon (CR) note:

None of the Navy/Marine flight crews in the Battle of Midway were eligible for or were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon (CR). See Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual (SECNAVINST M-1650.1 of 16 Aug 2019, Appendix 2C.1.c (3) Amplifying Guidance). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded in connection with aerial flight, . . . “ The CR was established in 1969 and made retroactive to 07 Dec 1941. According to the Awards Manual, when deemed appropriate, the award for aerial combat was/is the Air Medal.

[Bio #227 composed by Gerry Lawton (GML470)]

Honoree ID: 100425   Created by: MHOH




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