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    Daddy’s Home - coordinated effort results in long-deserved final rest for WWII Naval Aviator.

    Frederick Schrader - Whites

    Photo By Chief Petty Officer Jason Perry | Cmdr. Frederick Schrader (US Navy Photo)... read more read more



    Story by Gene Hughes 

    Navy Personnel Command

    Before shipping out aboard USS Hornet (CV 12) in the summer of 1944, Frederick Schrader purchased teddy bears for daughters Judy and Barbara, knowing his deployment would prevent him from spending Christmas with his family.
    The Navy Commander, Naval Academy graduate and Aviator, husband and father of two would not return – until nearly 80 years later.
    On Oct. 13, 1944, Schrader, then commander of Carrier Air Group (CVG) 11, was lost when his F6F-5 Hellcat fighter, belonging to Fighting Squadron (VF) 11, was shot down during an attack on Toko Seaplane Base on Formosa (now Taiwan). The Hornet was one of 17 carriers taking part in the Battle of Formosa, Oct. 12-15. According to his wingman, there was no sign of a parachute or that Schrader had been able to exit the aircraft before it crashed. Because he crashed in enemy territory, no rescue attempt was possible.
    “I had just had my second birthday on Sept. 18 and, at that point, had not seen him for several months prior because he was at sea,” said Barbara. “Our family consisted of my mother, Lucile, and my older sister, Judith and I. We were living in Long Beach, California at that time. When my mother received the telegram on Oct. 30 that his plane had been shot down and he was presumed dead. She gave us the bears.”
    Born in Carbondale, Illinois on March 12, 1913, Schrader grew up in Lawrenceville, Illinois, participating in sports and met a young girl named Lucile. While attending the United States Naval Academy, the 6-foot-3-inch “Fritz” was a member of the rowing crew, played football and boxed.
    According to the Academy’s 1935 yearbook, “with the fairer sex he gets along fine, although his real attraction is back in Illinois.” He would propose to Lucile, a replica of his class ring serving as the engagement ring. Schrader would graduate 35th in a class of 442.
    Commissioned in June of 1935, he served in a variety of billets on USS New Mexico; Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida; USS Ranger (CV 4); USS Idaho; and NAS Alameda, California. His squadrons included Fighter Squadron (VF) 4, Observation Squadron (VO) 3, commander of Scouting Squadron (VS) 2D12, and Fighter Squadron (VF) 3 before becoming the commander of CVG 11.
    As CAG, Schrader commanded 40 Hellcats, 25 Helldivers, and 18 Avengers, for a total 83 aircraft.
    The War Diary of the Hornet contains the following entry for Oct. 13, 1944:
    “Strikes continue on the morning of the 13th against substantially the same objectives on Formosa. The same airfields were hit again and more planes destroyed. The destruction of the facilities at Heito and Reigaryo was continued. …the day was marred by the loss of the Air Group Commander Frederick Schrader by (anti-aircraft) fire. He was shot down while leading a strafing attack and his loss was a serious one since his leadership and work with the Air Group had been outstanding.”
    The night before his final flight, Schrader spoke with one of his Helldiver fliers, Lt. j.g. Edwin "Big Ed" H. Wilson.
    “Just last night he said, ‘tomorrow is my eldest daughter's birthday and I am out to get her a good present,’” Wilson later wrote in his war journal. “Tough, as he was a pretty good gent.”

    Keeping the Memory Alive

    Following her husband’s loss, Lucile kept his memory alive by telling her daughters about him and their time together.
    “My mother described my father very lovingly,” Barbara said. “She had wonderful memories of him from when they met in high school and their youth fellowship meetings in Lawrenceville. She described him as very tall, a good and loving husband and father, and very good to her when he was on shore. They had a very good, but short life together.”
    Barbara described occasionally watching 8mm home movies, bits of which now survive on a CD. She knew who he was, that he graduated from the Naval Academy, and learned of him listening to family stories.
    “As an early teenager, I used to climb up into our attic storage area and go through the box of his things - pictures, books, letters, but by then we did not have much as most had been destroyed (including photos of Schrader and his daughters) in a basement sewer flood years before,” she said.
    The family moved back and forth between California and Illinois twice between 1944 and 1947, when Lucile made the move to Illinois a permanent one. Barbara said that at the time of her father’s death, it was expected that she would place the girls with their grandparents in Illinois and make a new life for herself.
    “Instead, she chose to work and support my sister and me, and I love her so much for that,” she said. “My mother never remarried, and she wore and treasured her Naval Academy engagement ring her entire life.”
    However, Schrader’s story had not ended with his death. His body was recovered by Japanese forces in the area, taken to a local headquarters, and inspected for possible intelligence value. He was buried as an "unknown" in Formosa. After the war, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked with investigating and recovering missing American personnel. They searched Formosa for a year, but none of the remains recovered could be positively identified as Schrader.
    Eventually, all the remains were repatriated to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii in 1949, and that same year, Schrader was declared non-recoverable.
    Years passed. Judy and Barbara grew up, and their father’s service and love of country grew with them. Judy married a Navy officer who taught at the Naval Academy early in his career, while Barbara wed an Air Force officer. Each had children of their own, and there are several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
    Lucile died in 1984, never knowing that her beloved Fritz was actually buried in Hawaii in 1949. Her ashes were placed in the ocean off the coast of Hawaii, the closest the family could get to where they thought his remains still were -- Formosa.
    In 2009, both Judy and Barbara’s families began a search for information about Schrader, using the internet and available records. They were able to put together a timeline of his life, including duty assignments, ships he served on and his promotions.
    Soon others would also be looking into the life and location of Cmdr. Frederick Schrader.

    Research and Discovery

    In 2018, USNA graduate and Naval Aviator Matt Robbins, himself the product of a Navy family, began conducting research into the fate of a naval relative. His father and maternal grandfather had both served as carrier-based Naval Aviators, and both had connections to Schrader -- his grandfather during World War II (including Formosa, where Schrader was lost), and his father during Vietnam. Ironically, both served aboard USS Hornet.
    As a carrier-based Naval Flight Officer, Robins served in an E-2C Hawkeye squadron attached to Carrier Air Wing Eleven (CVW 11) which traces its lineage back to CVG 11, Schrader’s last command.
    Researching his own family eventually led Robins to an article about ongoing efforts to identify World War II MIAs, and the approximately 8,000 sets of unidentified remains – due to lack of forensic analysis -- believed to be American service members buried in national cemeteries around the globe.
    Through the Freedom of Information Act and assistance of private researchers, Robins was able to obtain case files from ARGS documenting their recovery of fallen Americans from sites around Taiwan following World War Two.
    “The first of these case files that I began researching -- designated Unknown X-136 -- documented the recovery of remains believed to be a U.S. Navy fighter pilot shot down over Taiwan in October 1944,” he said. “This file contained numerous intriguing details such as the date (13 October 1944), location (Toko Seaplane Base), circumstances (shot down by anti-aircraft fire), and, perhaps most importantly, the passage that the unknown aviator was ’believed to be an Annapolis graduate.’"
    The Annapolis detail greatly reduced the number of possible candidates -- during World War II, only four USNA graduates were lost over Formosa. The details reminded Robins of a passage from a book he had recently read. Pulling it from the shelf he confirmed the passage -- how on Oct. 13, 1944 while attacking a seaplane base on Formosa, a F6F Hellcat from CVG 11 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.
    The pilot was listed as Cmdr. Frederick Rutherford Schrader, USNA Class of 1935.
    Establishing an identity for Unknown X-136 was promising, but Robins knew that to build support for the case, he would have to create a list of American aviation casualties over and around Taiwan during the war, which had never been done, but would strengthen the circumstantial case that Unknown X-136 was indeed Cmdr. Schrader.
    It was during the compilation that Robins encountered researchers and filmmakers George Retelas and Tim Hampton, descendants of World War II servicemen who had, interestingly, served on CVG 11 at the same time as Schrader. All three are also volunteers at the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California.
    “My wife’s great-uncle flew with Schrader while onboard the Hornet,” said Hampton, CVG 11 historian. “He was shot down as well and declared missing in action. His aircraft went down over the open ocean with little chance of recovery. Helping bring Schrader home has been the opportunity to help bring closure to my family as well.”
    “Helping solve this MIA case has been an unbelievable experience,” said Retelas. “When I first set out to do this documentary, I never knew it could lead to something so special. Serving those who have served was my chance to give back. I know my grandfather is smiling from above.”
    For the next four years Robins, Retelas and Hampton examined historical records, contacted the Schrader family, and provided the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency with forensic details of the case. Eventually, it was announced that the remains designated Unknown X-136 would be exhumed for formal identification.
    “Research by DPAA staff in 2022 concluded that X-136 could be potentially linked to two casualties from WWII, Cmdr. Schrader and another pilot, Ensign Henry Ptacek,” said Dr. Gregory Berg, lab case manager for DPAA’s scientific analysis directorate. “The X-136 remains were exhumed from NMCP on August 11, 2022, and assigned the accession number CIL 2022-193.
    According to Dr. Berg, the remains were somewhat poorly preserved, but they were in good enough condition to allow DPAA scientists to estimate sex, age, stature, and note antemortem (before death) anomalies and perimortem trauma (at the time of death). So, overall, they were harder to work with than our average case, but they were not so poorly preserved that we could not affect an ID.”
    “The recovery and return of Cmdr. Frederick Schrader’s remains is a testament to the solemn vow our nation makes to bring all of our heroes home,” said Adm. John Aquilino, Commander, U.S. IndoPacific Command. “As a fellow Naval Aviator, I am humbled by his sacrifice and honored to play a small role in Cmdr. Schrader’s return to the United States.”
    “Every identification is special to DPAA because it’s the ultimate fulfillment of our nation’s sacred obligation to the missing service member and his family,” said DPAA Director Kelly McKeague. “In the case of Commander Schrader, research by a former naval flight officer led DPAA to pursue disinterment of a set of remains buried as a World War II Unknown. His identification is especially gratifying for his 80-year old daughter and a 99-year old chief petty officer for whom Commander Shrader was the air group commander."

    The Lone Survivor

    Today, Radioman 2nd Class Richard Miralles, now living in Sacramento, California, is the lone survivor of Schrader’s CVG 11.
    “It feels kinda lonely,” he said. “I’m very happy to hear our Air Group Commander has been found, and I want to say thank you to Admiral Aquilino for all the help he gave us. Without him, we wouldn’t have been able to do this in time.”
    On Oct. 3, 2022, Barbara received word from the Naval Casualty Office that DPAA had formally identified the X-136 remains as being those of her father.
    “I got strong hints before I knew for sure, because I had been working and sharing information with the CVG 11 Research Group from the USS Hornet for a couple of years. I knew we had zeroed in on a very possible match. When I attended the DPAA Family Member Update in Denver on Sept. 10, I was told that Unknown X-136, whose remains had been buried at the Punchbowl in 1949, had been disinterred for comparison with my father’s records. From the many smiles, everyone seemed fairly sure that there would be a positive outcome.
    “It was a time of very high elation and yet great sadness as my sister was not getting to share this wonderful news with me,” she said.
    Judy had slipped into a coma and was not expected to survive. She died Oct. 1, never knowing her father had been found. As the newly designated next of kin for the family, Barbara waited for the official call from Navy Casualty, which came two days later. The family visit was scheduled for Jan. 11, 2023.
    “Chief Yeoman DeShannon Beaty and our Casualty Assistance Calls Officer Cmdr. Jon Harbough came to our house and spent a good deal of time going through and completing all of the official paperwork and answering all of our many questions,” Barbara said. “We are very thankful for all the help and friendship Chief Beaty and DPAA provided during this process.”
    A Military Legacy Continues
    Schrader’s great grandson, Lt. Josh Patton, who is Judy’s oldest grandson and the son of a retired commander, is also a USNA graduate and Naval Aviator, currently serving aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
    “I have been aware of my great grandfather and his story since I was very young,” he said. “However, I did not understand the magnitude of his service until I was in high school and began contemplating the Naval Academy. The only reason I had ever even heard of the Naval Academy was because of him. I will never forget walking into Memorial Hall on a Navy Football recruiting trip and seeing his name. It was an incredible experience.
    “It feels like closure and feels like his story is finally settled. I am also incredibly sad as my grandmother Judy passed away only weeks before they confirmed his remains. I know that would have been an incredible amount of closure for her that she never got. He died on her birthday when she was a little girl and that was very hard on her. She was able to carry his story to us and I am so thankful that I can be a part of his legacy.”
    Patton will soon separate from active duty June 1, but will continue his service with Training Squadron (VT) 35 Squadron Augment Unit as a Reservist.
    “I have always felt proud, but also very sad that I was never able to meet him,” he said.

    Final Rest

    Ever since her father’s loss, Barbara’s bear, “Teddy,” has remained a beloved reminder of her father.
    “Teddy has been a treasured part of my life – he represented my father to me, was a part of my childhood dreams of finding my father, and a comfort when I was sad or hurting,” she said. “For years he wore a bow tie of my father’s until it disintegrated from wear and old age. He made it through all of my own family’s military moves.”
    As the family gathers in Hawaii at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on April 13, Schrader will, at long long last, receive his final resting place. Where once there was a number, there will forever be a name. Teddy, adorned with the gold wings of a Naval Aviator, will also be there, a symbol of the undying love between a daughter and a father once lost, but now found.
    “I am very pleased to hear they were able to identify Cmdr. Schrader,” Miralles said. “It makes me feel good that they can put his name on there now instead of ’unknown’ and give him a proper burial.”

    Retelas’ documentary film, “Eleven,” features 11 WWII veterans from Air Group 11 as they share stories with the grandson of one of their comrade-in-arms. It can be found at:



    Date Taken: 04.07.2023
    Date Posted: 04.10.2023 08:25
    Story ID: 442308
    Location: US

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