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First Name: Severin

Last Name: Rombach

Birthplace: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, OH, US

Gender: Male



Branch: Navy (present)

Rating:

Home of Record: OH
Middle Name: Louis



Date of Birth: 26 November 1914

Date of Death: 05 June 1943 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 04 June 1942

Rank or Rate: Ensign

Years Served: 1939-1943
SEVERIN LOUIS ROMBACH

   
Engagements:
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)

Biography:

Severin Louis Rombach

Ensign, United States Naval Reserve

Navy Cross

Severin was the only child of Charles Frederick and Pearl Louise Gabel Rombach who were married in Cleveland, OH on 29 Oct 1907. Charles was a jeweler and Pearl became a well known artist. They moved to Melbourne, FL in 1954. Charles died there in July 1957 and Pearl died there on 27 Oct 1989 at age 103 yrs. Severin married Leah Gradwell on 15 Mar 1941 in Yuma, AZ. Was that her maiden or married name? Leah was the only child of Charles David and Mary Ellen (Tuite) Philpott of Columbiana County, OH who married on 27 Jan 1921. After Charles returned from overseas duty in World War I he was hired by the Cleveland & Pittsburgh (C.&P.) railroad as a yard brakeman. While working at the C. & P. railroad yards at Wellsville, Columbiana, OH on 02 Sep 1922, he sustained fatal cranial and neck injuries when he lost his balance and fell headlong from the top of a moving box car. Some years later his widow, Mary Ellen, married Thomas G. Gradwell on 27 Aug 1929. After their marriage Thomas and Ellen moved to Cleveland where Leah graduated from Benjamin Franklin high school Jun 1940. Leah apparently used her step-father's surname on occasion. There is no evidence that she changed her name in the courts.

Severin attended Ohio University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in commerce in June 1936. He was active in ABC; Sigma Pi; German Club; and he was a football manager. In April 1939, he submitted his application for aviation training in the US Naval Reserve. He passed a medical exam, wrote a resume, provided various documents and references and sat for an interview with the Naval Reserve Flight Selection Board. He was recommended to be placed on the eligible list for possible later appointment as aviation cadet and flight training. He enlisted at the US Naval Reserve Aviation Base (NRAB), Grosse Ile, MI on 5 May 1939 as a Seaman Second Class (S2c), V-5. He began his elimination flight training a short time later. In late June, Rombach completed the elimination training. He was released to inactive duty and returned home to await further orders. He received orders in Sep 1939 from the Secretary of the Navy to report to the Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, FL on 25 Sep 1939 to begin flight training. He was honorably discharged on 20 Sep 1939 at the NRAB Gross Ile, MI to accept an appointment as an aviation cadet. The following day Rombach accepted the appointment and executed the oath of office as an aviation cadet, USNR.

He reported to the Commandant, NAS Pensacola on 25 Sep and began active duty undergoing training. Flight school would consist of 7-8 months of ground school, basic and primary training in Pensacola and a specialized course in carrier type airplanes at the NAS, Miami at Opa-Laka, FL. Rombach was detached from duty at NAS Pensacola in early April 1940 to proceed to Opa-Locka, FL for temporary active duty undergoing training. He was enumerated on the 01 April 1940 Escambia County, FL federal census at the NAS, Pensacola as an aviation cadet.

He was designated a naval aviator (Heavier-Than-Air) on 10 May 1940. On 12 June, he was commissioned an Ensign, A-V(N), United States Naval Reserve with a date of rank 15 April 1940. His primary training complete Ens. Rombach detached from NAS Miami to proceed to the Fleet Air Detachment, NAS San Diego for active duty involving flying under training, and when directed report to Torpedo Squadron Six for active duty involving flying. Ens. Rombach reported for active duty to Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6) embarked on USS Enterprise (CV-6) on 21 Jun 1940.

Ens. Rombach was eligible for promotion to Lieutenant (junior grade) 28 May 1942. However, due to the exigencies of war, he was unable to execute his oath of office and accept the promotion in writing. He could not be promoted until he returned to navy jurisdiction . . . he never did. The 1943 Naval Register lists his rank as Ensign.

The Enterprise was commissioned on 12 May 1938. During 1939, Enterprise and her embarked squadrons conducted shake down cruises and workup exercises at various times. While the ship was inport the squadrons were temporarily based ashore at their assigned airfields. In Sep 1939, Enterprise became part of the Hawaiian Detachment of the U.S. Fleet whose homeport was Pearl Harbor. In Jan 1940 Enterprise was engaged in exercises in Hawaiian waters. In early Feb she steamed for Puget Sound Navy Shipyard for an overhaul after making a brief port call in San Diego. In late May, Enterprise, her overhaul completed, returned to San Diego for about a month. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 July 1940. Enterprise conducted exercises from August to early Nov in the Hawaiian area. Then on 09 Nov she steamed to San Diego until 2 Dec when she got underway for the Puget Sound Navy Shipyard in Bremerton, WA.

She returned to Pearl Harbor on 21 Jan 1941. During 1941 Enterprise made 13 round trips between Hawaii and San Diego from April - Nov conducting exercise cycles and squadron work-ups. During those months she also shuttled Army Air Force P-39s and P-40s, as well as, Navy aircraft from US West Coast ports to Pearl Harbor and beyond. On 28 Nov 1941, Enterprise, now operating in a war-time steaming condition, left San Diego with a cargo of Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF-211) aircraft and pilots destined for Wake Island. The Marine pilots and their planes flew from Enterprise to Wake Island on 02 Dec 1941. Enterprise was scheduled to arrive back in Pearl Harbor on 06 Dec, but was delayed due to inclement weather. Fortunately, she wasn't inport on the morning of 07 Dec, but arrived later that evening.

In the first five months of 1942, Enterprise and her Air Group participated in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and Wake Island operations in Feb 1942. According to a Report After Battle narrative submitted by VT-6 on 2 Feb 1942, Ensign Rombach, flying aircraft 6-T-9 with his gunner/radioman, Graetz, launched from the Enterprise at 0731 on 01 Feb 1942. This second division, led by the squadron executive officer, Lcdr Lance Massey, comprised nine torpedo armed aircraft that were to attack enemy Japanese shipping, in and around Kwajalein Atoll. The division was credited with a number of torpedo hits on shipping including hits on a light cruiser.

After returning to Enterprise, the nine first division aircraft led by Lcdr Eugene Lindsey, loaded with bombs, launched again about 0935 to attack the air field and surface ships at Wotje Island and Atoll. During all attacks VT-6 bombers and torpedo armed planes were met with intense anti-aircraft fire from numerous locations. Both divisions returned with no casualties.

The Wake Island raid came next on 24 Feb 1942. On 4 March, Enterprise’s Air Group attacked enemy installations on the Marcus Islands; and on 18 April, she supported the Doolittle raid. In early May, Enterprise and the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) were dispatched to the South Pacific to assist the aircraft carriers USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Yorktown (CV-5) who were engaged in the battle of the Coral Sea. However, before the ships arrived on-scene the battle of the Coral Sea was over. After participating in additional operations in the Central Pacific, Enterprise returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May and began intensive preparations to meet an expected Japanese thrust at Midway Island. Enterprise got underway from Pearl Harbor on 28 May 1942, and with USS Hornet (CV-8), steamed toward a point Northeast of Midway called "Point Luck." USS Yorktown (CV-5) followed a short time later.

Early on the morning of June 4, 1942, pilot, Ens. Severin L. Rombach and his radioman-gunner, ARM2 Wilburn Forrest Glenn, launched their torpedo plane from Enterprise along with other aircraft of VT-6 and Air Group Six to attack the Japanese striking force that was near Midway. Separated from their covering fighter protection, VT-6, comprised of 14 torpedo planes, pressed their attack even though overwhelmed by superior numbers of Japanese fighter aircraft. One by one the planes of VT-6 were shot down. Of the 14 planes only 4 returned to Enterprise. Ens. Rombach and Petty Officer Glenn did not return.

Of the 14 Torpedo Bombers from VT-6 that attacked the Japanese Striking Force on 4 Jan 1942 only four returned to Enterprise. Machinist Albert Walter Winchell (NAP), and his gunner, Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Douglas M. Cossitt, made a water landing before sighting Enterprise. They survived 17 days on the open sea in a rubber raft before being rescued by a Patrol Squadron 24 PBY on 21 Jun 1942, some 360 miles northward of Midway. In all, five VT-6 crews survived the morning attack.

According to the Enterprise after action report for the Battle of Midway dated 8 Jun 1942 Ens. Rombach, and radioman/gunner ARM2 Wilburn Forrest Glenn were reported as personnel losses during battle. They were officially listed as missing-in-action 04 Jun 1942 and presumed dead on 5 Jun 1943. Their remains were unrecoverable.

Ens. Rombach was awarded (posthumously) the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart medal, the Presidential Unit Citation with ribbon, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze battle star and the World War II Victory Medal.

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Those pilots and crew of VT-6 that were killed in action on 04 June 1942 included:

1) Lcdr Eugene Elbert Lindsey (CO VT-6) and his gunner, ARMC Charles Tilden Grenat

2) Lt Arthur Vincent Ely (VT-6 XO) and his gunner, RM3 Arthur Richard Lindgren

3) Lt Paul James Riley and his gunner, ARM2 Edwin John Mushinski

4) Ltjg John Thomas Eversole and his gunner, RM2 John Udell Lane

5) Ensign Randolph Mitchell Holder and his gunner, ARM3 Gregory Joseph Durawa

6) Ltjg Lloyd Thomas and his gunner, ARM2 Harold Francis Littlefield

7) Ensign Severin Louis Rombach and his gunner, ARM2 Wilburn Forrest Glenn

8) Ensign John Wiley Brock and his gunner, ARM3 John Melville Blundell

9) Ensign Flourenoy Glenn Hodges and his gunner, RM2 John Hail Bates

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Navy Cross Citation

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross to Ensign Severin Louis Rombach United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane of Torpedo Squadron SIX, attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Participating in a vigorous and intensive assault against the Japanese invasion fleet, Ensign Rombach pressed home his attack with relentless determination in the face of a terrific barrage of anti-aircraft fire. The unprecedented conditions under which his squadron launched its offensive were so exceptional that it is highly improbably the occasion may ever recur where other pilots of the service will be called upon to demonstrate an equal degree of gallantry and fortitude. His extreme disregard of personal safety contributed materially to the success of our forces and his loyal conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 309 (December 1942)

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USS Enterprise Presidential Unit Citation: It reads;

For consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area, 7 December 1941, to 15 November 1942. Participating in nearly every major carrier engagement in the first year of the war, the Enterprise and her air group, exclusive of far-flung destruction of hostile shore installations throughout the battle area, did sink or damage on her own a total of 35 Japanese vessels and shot down a total of 185 Japanese aircraft. Her aggressive spirit and superb combat efficiency are fitting tribute to the officers and men who so gallantly established her as an ahead bulwark in the defense of the American nation.

Actions of the Enterprise mentioned in the citation include the Gilbert and Marshalls of 01 Feb 1942; Wake Island raid, 24 Feb 1942; Marcus Island raid, 04 Mar 1942; Battle of Midway, 4-6 Jun 1942; Occupation of Guadalcanal, 7-8 Aug 1942; Battle of Stewart Islands, 24 Aug 1942; Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 Oct 1942; and Battle of Solomon Islands, 14-15 Nov 1942.

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Task Force 16 Citation Recognizing its contribution to the Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Second World War, it is appropriate that we take time to reflect on the unique and daring accomplishments achieved early in the war by Task Force 16. Sailing westward under sealed orders in April 1942, only four months after the devastating raid on Pearl Harbor, Task Force 16, carrying sixteen Army B-25 bombers, proceeded into history. Facing adverse weather and under constant threat of discovery before bombers could be launched to strike the Japanese homeland, the crews of the ships and LTC Doolittle's bombers persevered. On 18 April 1942 at 14:45, perseverance produced success as radio broadcasts from Japan confirmed the success of the raids. These raids were an enormous boost to the morale of the American people in those early and dark days of the war and a harbinger of the future for the Japanese High Command that had so foolishly awakened "The Sleeping Giant." These exploits, which so inspired the service men and women and the nation live on today and are remembered when the necessity of success against all odds is required.

(Signed) John H.Dalton

Secretary of the Navy

15 May 1995

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His family also received a commemoration in his honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt . It reads: In grateful memory of Severin Louis Rombach, who died in the service of his country, SEA, Pacific Area, ATTACHED U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, 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

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The Evening Review (East Liverpool, OH) - 24 Mar 1941, Mon - p.7, Mrs. Thomas Gradwell of Cleveland, formerly a resident here, announced today the marriage of her daughter, Miss Leah Philpott, to Ensign Severance (sic) Rumbach (sic), son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Rumbach of Cleveland, 14 Mar, in Yuma, AZ. The bride recently graduated from Benjamin Franklin High school in Cleveland. Mr. Rumbach is a graduate of Western Reserve university and now is a navy pilot on the Enterprise airplane carrier. Mr. and Mrs. Rumbach will reside in Coronado, CA.

[Original article edited for content]

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The Marion Star, (Marion, OH) Wednesday, 11 Nov 1942 p. 7

Ohio Naval Officers Given Navy Cross - Among Nine Listed as Missing at Midway by the Associated Press

Washington, Nov. 11 -- Nine naval aviation officers, including Lieutenant (JG) Lloyd Thomas, 30, of Nelsonville, O., and Ensign Severin Louis Rombach, 27, of Cleveland; who fought in the battle of Midway and are listed as missing have been awarded the navy cross for extraordinary heroism. The navy announced today that each decoration was accompanied by the same citation praising each officer "for extraordinary heroism . . [the citation is repeated as above] . . " Lieutenant Thomas' mother, Mrs Donna M. Thomas, lives at Chuncey, O, and his wife, Mrs. Mildred Macklin Thomas, lives at Ohau (sic) avenue, Honolulu. Ensign Rombach is the son of Mrs. C.F.Rombach of Cleveland. His wife, Mrs. Leah Greadwell (sic) Rombach also lives in Cleveland.

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Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, TX) - 27 May 1944, Sat. - p. 10.

"Governor To Take Part in Ceremonies"

Gov. Coke Stevenson will participate in launching ceremonies June 1 at Orange for a destroyer escort vessel named for the late Lt (J.G.) Severin Louis Rombach, USNR, of Cleveland, O., the Navy announced today. Sponsor will be Mrs Leah Gradwell Rombach, (4259 Valley Road), Cleveland, widow of the naval officer. Lt Rombach joined Torpedo Squadron Six, based on the USS Enterprise, on June 21, 1940. The plane on which he was pilot was shot down in the Battle of Midway June 4, 1942. He was officially declared dead June 5, 1943. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

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The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio) - 26 April 1944, Wed. p. 3

"Former Wellsville Resident to Christen New War Craft"

A former Wellsville woman made a widow by the Japs will help avenge, symbolically, at least, her husband's death when she christens a new U.S. war craft that ultimately will deliver some blows itself in retribution. Chosen for the launching is Mrs Leah Philpott Rombach, 22, and employe (sic) of the bond department of the Cleveland works of the Aluminum Company of America, who will smash a bottle of champagne across the bow of the destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Rombach, named in memory of her husband, Lt Severin L Rombach. The naval flier sent his torpedo bomber diving at a Jap aircraft carrier during the Battle of Midway in June, 1942. He never returned. The ceremony will take place about June 1 at a Texas shipyard. The young woman is the grand daughter of Mrs Leah Taggart of Salineville, and a niece of Mrs Fred Winland and Mrs. Thomas Cartwright of East Liverpool.

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The USS Rombach (DE-364) was launched at the Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, TX. on 6 Jun 1944. She was sponsored by Mrs. Severin L. Rombach, widow of Ltjg (sic) Rombach. Rombach was commissioned 20 Sep 1944.

Following shakedown off Bermuda, she departed Boston, Mass., 29 November and arrived at Manus, Admiralty Islands, 7 January 1945. From 24 January to 2 March, Rombach escorted convoys between Hollandia, New Guinea, and Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands. Then she served in the Manila Bay area, Luzon, Philippine Islands. Beginning 26 April Rombach spent a month with the Local Naval Defense Force, Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands. She resumed operations with her escort division from 27 May to 8 August, operating in a hunter-killer group off the western coast of Luzon. Rombach next served as part of a carrier hunter-killer group patrolling the Leyte-Okinawa convoy routes north of Luzon until after the cessation of hostilities, 14 August 1945. Employed in air-sea rescue operations during the latter part of August, Rombach was engaged in occupational landings on 5 September at Jinsen, Korea; on 1 October at Taku, China, and on 5 October at Tsingtao. She then served with the "Magic Carpet" fleet from 8 October to 22 November escorting transports to East China ports where servicemen were embarked for return to the United States.

In July 1946 Rombach was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Seattle for the training of Naval Reserves. In addition to regular training duties for Reservists of the 13th Naval District, Rombach participated in PhibPac exercises in 1952 and 1953 and spent 8 weeks each year from 1952 to 1957 as a school ship at the Fleet Sonar School, San Diego. On 9 January 1958 she decommissioned at Bremerton, Wash., where she remained until 1 March 1972. At that time she was stricken from the Navy list after an INSURV inspection team determined her unfit for further service.

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The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, OH) - 01 May 1947, Thu - p.31

Sues for Insurance

Mrs. Leah Rombach, filed suit today in federal court in Cleveland to stop payments of GI insurance to her mother-in-law. She says her husband, Lieut. Severin Rombach was too busy fighting Japs to change his $10,000 policy naming her the beneficiary. So Mrs Pearl L. Rombach, the lieutenant's mother, gets the monthly payments. His widow claims he wrote her in January 1942, naming her the one to whom the insurance should be paid. He was killed in a torpedo plane during the battle of Midway.

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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 1650.1H of Aug 22, 2006, Chapter 2, Section 3, p2-34). It reads in part, “The CR will not be awarded to personnel for Aerial Combat, . . . “ The CR was established in 1969 and made retroactive to 07 Dec 1941.

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[Bio compiled by GML470]

Note: USS Rombach (DE-364) information from the US Navy History Command's website as is some of the factual information about Rombach's military service dates.

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Honoree ID: 100952   Created by: MHOH

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