John P. Reitmeyer - Shipfitter 2nd Class - USS Juneau
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal - November 13, 1942
John Paul Reitmeyer was born on July
18, 1909, the fourth of ten children of Rose and August Reitmeyer. He had six
brothers, Harry, Frederick, Vincent, Leo, Gilbert and Ralph, and three sisters, Frances, Rita and Jean. The Reitmeyer family
lived at 1829 Woodward Avenue, then moved to 516 Bellaire
Avenue in 1930.
John attended Resurrection
Elementary and graduated from South Hills High School in 1927. He took
a job working with his grandfather at Moorehead-Reitmeyer Electric Motor
Repair Shop in Oakdale, where he was employed for two years.
In December 1929, John enlisted
in the United States Navy. During his four year tour of duty, he took
flying lessons, but never qualified as a Navy pilot. After his enlistment
ended in 1933, John returned to Pittsburgh and the family's
new home on Bellaire Avenue.
He went back to work with his
grandfather for a short time, then moved on to the sheet metal trade.
John became an ironworker, employed at the Dravo Corporation's shipbuilding
yard on Neville Island. He also spent time with the Heyl-Patterson Construction
Company, doing metal work at facilities throughout the state.
The Dravo Corporation shipbuilding
yard on Neville Island.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor on December 7, 1941, John re-enlisted in the Navy on January 6, 1942
and was rated as a Shipfitter 2nd Class, assigned to the USS Juneau (CL-52), a new ship moored at the Brooklyn Naval
A naval Shipfitter's duties include
fabricating, assembling and erecting all structural parts of a ship. They
were the skilled mechanics who kept a ship at sea structurally sound. In
battle, they were called upon to perform whatever tasks necessary to keep
their ship seaworthy.
Before leaving for the war, John
commented to family members that it was his duty to go back to sea on this
recently commissioned ship because so many of the sailors were so young,
and had never before been on a ship, let alone out to sea. He felt strongly
that his experience was needed on the USS Juneau.
The USS Juneau was a light cruiser commissioned in February
1942. After a quick shakedown cruise and blockade duty near Martinique, the
ship docked in New York to make alterations. John was able to return home on
leave to visit with the Reitmeyer family in Brookline. His youngest brother
Ralph recalls, "That was in July of 1942."
Once his leave was up, Ralph remembers
taking his brother to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station on Grant Street, in
downtown Pittsburgh, for the trip back to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Ralph had
only recently earned his driver's license.
"John was always kidding me about my
poor driving," Ralph says. "I was a nervous wreck."
"He boarded the train and that was
the last time I saw him."
Shipfitter 2nd Class John Reitmeyer
rejoined the Juneau in New York in late-July 1942. The ship was performing patrol
and escort duties at the time. On August 22, the Juneau departed for the South
Pacific. There, the ship would support United States operations at Guadalcanal,
seeing action in two of the major naval engagements that contributed to the American
victory at Guadalcanal, which halted Japanese expansion towards Australia
and turned the tide of battle in favor of the Allies.
Shipfitter 2nd Class John Reitmeyer (back
right) and shipmates on the USS Juneau.
After stopping briefly at the Tonga Islands
and New Caledonia, she rendezvoused on September 10 with Task Force 18 under the
command of Rear Admiral Leigh Noyes, flying his flag on the aircraft carrier
The following day, Task Force 17, which
included the carrier Hornet, combined with Admiral Noyes' unit to form Task Force
61, whose mission was to ferry fighter aircraft to Guadalcanal. On September 15,
Wasp took three torpedo hits from the Japanese submarine I-19. With fires raging
out of control, the carrier was sunk. The Juneau and screen destroyers rescued
1,910 survivors of Wasp and returned them to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, on
September 16. The next day, the Juneau rejoined Task Force 17.
In October 1942, operating with the Hornet
group, Task Force 17 and the USS Juneau participated in the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai Raid
and in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. Then, in November, the ship was present at
the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
The Light Cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52)
On November 13, 1942, a Japanese
task force, including several warships escorting a troop convoy, approached
Guadalcanal. This was a major attempt by the Japanese to reinforce their
island garrison and launch an offensive operation to clear the island of the
As the Japanese ships neared Guadalcanal,
they were met by Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan's relatively small Landing
Support Group, which included the USS Juneau. At 01:48 the two forces met and
began to exchange fire. A fierce battle ensued.
A painting that depicts the Naval
Battle of Guadalcanal from the viewpoint of the American soldiers on the
The USS Juneau was hit by a torpedo
and began to list. The ship was forced to withdraw. By morning, the Japanese
force had been beaten back, and their reinforcement effort halted. This was
a major turning point in the battle of Guadalcanal.
Listing severely, the USS Juneau,
along with two other damaged cruisers, began the journey to Australia for
repairs. At 11:00 on the morning of November 13, the USS Juneau was hit by
two torpedoes from the Japanese submarine, I-26. The ship broke in two and
sunk in a mere twenty seconds.
John Reitmeyer was below decks and
did not survive the sinking. In a sad irony, another
Brookliner, Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Robert F. McCann was also aboard the Juneau when it sunk and
was among those that perished on the fateful day.
Over 100 sailors escaped the doomed
ship, only to languish for days in the water. News of the sinking was not
reported due to the tenuous situation at that time during the Battle of
Guadalcanal. The admiralty did not want to risk allowing the Japanese to
know the extent of the damages to the fleet. When rescue aircraft arrived,
eight days later, only ten survivors remained. In all, 687 young men perished
as a result of the sinking of the USS Juneau, including the five Sullivan Brothers.
The Pittsburgh Press, on January 24,
1943, reported that John P. Reitmeyer was listed as Missing in Action. Any
hopes of John's survival were dashed when news came back from of the ten
survivors. Also, Ralph Reitmeyer, an Electrician's Mate on the USS Picking,
heard from eyewitnesses of his brother's sudden and tragic fate. One of the
four Blue Service Stars on the window of the Reitmeyer home on Bellaire
Avenue was replaced by a Gold Star.
Shipfitter 2nd Class John P. Reitmeyer,
along with Gunners Mate 2nd Class Robert F. McCann, of Brookline are both
memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, located in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City,
Metro Manila. They were the first two local casualties of the World War that
would eventually claim forty-one sons from the neighborhood. Two other fallen
Brookliners, both lost at sea, Frank P. Dornetto and Clarence R. Copeland, are also listed on the Tablets of the
Missing in Manila.
In 1987, a memorial to the USS Juneau
was erected near the docks in Juneau, Alaska. The bronze tablets were later
moved to the USS Juneau Memorial Center, located in Kearny, New Jersey, and
rededicated on November 14, 2013. The Memorial Center is in the old Federal
Shipbuilding Company, the same building that laid the keel for the ship back
On March 20, 2018, explorers located the
wreck of the USS Juneau 2.6 miles below the ocean surface off the Soloman
Islands. Click here to view video footage of the discovery.
Electrian's Mate Ralph W. Reitmeyer - United States Navy
USS Picking (DD-685) - 1943/1945
Ralph William Reitmeyer was born
on September 26, 1924, the youngest of ten children of Rose and August
Reitmeyer. He had six brothers, Harry, Frederick, Vincent, John, Leo and Gilbert, and three sisters, Frances, Rita and Jean. The
Reitmeyer family lived at 1829 Woodward Avenue, then moved to 516 Bellaire
Avenue in 1930.
Ralph graduated from Resurrection
Elementary and South Hills High School. Following in the footsteps of his
older brothers John and Leo, he joined the Navy on June 18, 1943 and was
assigned to the recently commissioned Fletcher-class destroyer USS Picking (DD-685), as an electrical repairman.
On board ship, Ralph's duty station
was below decks in the Engine Room. He worked the Fire Room Board Watch. An
Electricians Mate was responsible for maintaining proper steam pressure from
the two Fire Rooms in order keep the ship's generator in proper working
condition. The generator provided power for all of the electrical systems
and the turbines.
The USS Picking's first assignment was
with the North Pacific Fleet, stationed at Dutch Harbor. The Picking was part
of Destroyer Squadron 49, made up of eight destroyers and three light cruisers,
that patrolled the waters off the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. This tour of duty
in the northern Pacific lasted from December 1943 through July 1944.
The United States Navy Destroyer
USS Picking (DD-685).
The Picking then steamed to San
Franciso, California for a refit and overhaul. In September, the ship sailed for
Pearl Harbor, then off to the war in the South Pacific. On October 25, 1944,
while performing escort duties for the 7th Fleet near the Philippine Islands,
the ship received news of
the Battle off Samar Island, and rushed to provide protection for the
Leyte beachhead, the target of the Japanese attack.
The USS Picking was heading into one
of the largest naval battles in history, the centermost action of
the Battle of Leyte Gulf, also known as the Second Battle of the
Off Samar Island, a powerful Japanese
force, including the Battleship Yamato, engaged a much smaller American force
made up mostly of escort carriers and "tin cans", the lightly armored
Fletcher-class destroyers. This outgunned and underarmored group of American
ships was all that stood between the Japanese and the exposed and unprotected
landing forces on Leyte.
The USS Picking joined the battle on
the periphery of the main engagement. During the battle, the ship's guns
engaged several Japanese warplanes, and splashed two in the process, before
the Japanese attackers were compelled to withdraw.
At the time of the Battle off Samar,
Ralph's battle station was on the search light platform, located midway up
the Number One Stack. He would climb up the stack to the platform, turn the
lights on and operate the shudders. During a daylight call to stations,
there was nothing much to do but stand on the platform and watch.
Ralph remembers that day. "I was up
on the platform, watching an occasional Japanese plane attacking one of
the nearby ships. Our gunners were firing and the japs were firing. They
were good flyers, but lucky for us they weren't great shots."
"Our boys were better, and got
two of them with the 40mm guns."
A Japanese warplane shot down
at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
"We took some hits when one plane
passed by on a strafing run, and the ship suffered one casualty. It was
a friend of mine who was manning the radar tower on top of the flying
bridge. From our perches high atop the main deck, we were within yelling
distance of each other."
"One of the bullets hit him in the
leg. He was taken down to the main bridge for first aid."
Captain Semmes, our commanding
officer, came out to see him. He looked across the way and saw me standing
all by myself on the search light platform on the stack."
"What are you doing out there?" the
Captain yelled at me.
"This is my battle station, Sir."
"Well get down off there," the
Captain ordered. "We don't need any more casualties!"
That was the last time Ralph manned
the search lights. His battle station was switched to Damage Control.
"From that point on, my job was to stand on the deck waiting for any sort
of problem that needed addressed."
After the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the
Picking returned to escort duties. In January 1945 the ship provided
anti-aircraft protection for the beachhead at Lingayen Gulf and screened the landings at San Antonio.
She provided fire support and protection as troops went ashore on Mariveles,
February 15, and on Corregidor, February 16. The destroyer also provided
convoy escort to ships bringing reinforcements and supplies to the invasion
There were several occasions when
the Picking participated in search and destroy missions, tracking Japanese
submarines with sonar. Although they dropped many depth charges in pursuit
of the enemy subs, the Picking never claimed a sinking.
The crew of the Destroyer
USS Picking in 1945.
After the Philippine Island campaign.
The USS Picking provided fire support during the first month of
the Battle of Okinawa. The battle lasted eighty-two days, from early
April until mid-June 1945. The battle has been referred to as the "Typhoon of
Steel" due to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks
from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and
armored vehicles that assaulted the island.
The Picking traveled up and down the
coast, assisting the ground forces by bombing Japanese strongholds and
bunkers dug deep into the hillsides.
On May 18, 1945, the destoyers
USS Picking and USS Longshaw were off the Okinawan coast, near the city
of Naha, bombing the airfield and hillside bunkers, when several
unexpected developments led to one of the Picking's most memorable and,
in some ways, most forgettable, moments of the war.
As Ralph relates:
"We were in a cove and the tide
went out quickly. The Longshaw became grounded and efforts to get the
ship off the coral reef were unsuccessful. She was a sitting duck. The
Japanese on the coast began firing at the Longshaw and the ship was
taking severe damage and casualties were mounting. The Captain of the
Longshaw ordered the ship to be abandoned."
"We moved in close, firing at
the coast. We managed to recover all of the surviving crewmen from the
ship and then moved quickly out of harm's way, beyond the range of
the Jap guns."
"At this point it was decided
to destroy the Longshaw so that the Japanese could not board her and
retreive anything of value."
Captain Semmes ordered that
torpedoes be fired at the ship, rendering her useless. We lined up for
the shots and that's when things went from bad to worse, in quite an
The USS Longshaw, grounded on a
coral reef, was severely damaged
by Japanese guns along the Okinawan coastline on May 18,
"Our torpedoes were propelled
with alcohol, like the gasoline in a car. Sometimes life on a ship can
get boring, and some of the torpedo crewman would dip into the torpedo
alcohol at night for a little enjoyment."
"The torpedo alcohol was toxic,
but every ship had a few mates skilled in the process of separating the
poisonous additives from the alcohol. The result was termed 'Torpedo Juice,' and it had quite a kick. It was a bit risky, but the
war was full of risks, and every day could be your last."
"In the morning, the alcohol would
be replaced. It was business as usual for the men. Well, the night before
they weren't thinking that we'd be firing torpedos the next
"Now, the guys didn't drink
it all, but they consumed enough of the alcohol that none of our
torpedos had enough propellant to reach the target."
"Obviously, Captain Semmes was
unaware of the situation. We fired ten torpedoes at the Longshaw, and
one after another, their wakes fizzled out before impact. After a while
he became a bit suspicious."
"We had to call in one of the
light cruisers to put a few shots into the Longshaw. Later, when
the tide came back in, the disabled ship was towed out to sea and
"Captain Semmes ranted on and on
that if he could prove what happened to the alcohol, he would have
had the entire torpedo crew hung from the yardarm."
"Well, I guess that was just
one of those things. You never know with war. Anything can happen.
We have joked many times about that day at our reunions."
After their fire support role
at Okinawa was completed, ship went on picket duty, screening the offshore
invasion fleet. They remained at this assignment until June 23, when they
sailed for the U.S. base on the island of Saipan.
Electrians Mate 3rd Class Ralph
Reitmeyer and the USS Picking were stationed at Saipan when the war
came to an end in August 1945.
Medals earned by the USS Picking
during service in World War II.
Regarding his brother, John P. Reitmeyer, who was lost in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Ralph
remembers him coming home for leave in July 1942.
"Once his leave was up," Ralph
says, "I drove John and his girlfriend to the Pennsylvania Railroad
Station on Grant Street, in downtown Pittsburgh, for the trip back to
Brooklyn Navy Yard. I had only recently earned my driver's
"John was always kidding me
about my poor driving and I was a nervous wreck."
"He boarded the train and that
was the last time I saw him."
Shortly after his assignment
to the USS Picking, in 1943, Ralph came across a sailor that was present
when the USS Juneau was sunk.
The sailor told Ralph that as
their small convoy of damaged ships withdrew from Guadalcanal towards
Australia, they were below deck, lining up for breakfast. The
Juneau was under way on their port side. While they ate breakfast there
was a huge explosion. By the time they made it upstairs to the deck,
they were shocked to see that the Juneau was gone. "The ship
went down very quickly," the sailor said.
Ralph left the Navy on April 10,
1946, and worked at J&L Steel, then Moorehead-Reitmeyer Electric Motor
Repair Shop, before settling into a career as a Motor Repairman for
Pennsylvania Electric Coil Company. He married Dolores Yochum in September
1950. The couple had nine children: Ralph Jr., John, Charles, Gerard,
Warren, Kenneth, Ray, Roy and Arthur.
In May 1951, Ralph and Dolores
purchased a home in Brentwood, a southern suburb near Brookline. In July
1966, The USS Picking held a reunion. Ralph was chosen as Master of
Ceremonies. He had a great time meeting his fellow shipmates, including
Captain Semmes. Ralph and his Captain reminisced over their wartime
experiences, and were reminded about some of the lighter moments that
stood out in their mind, like Ralph's days at his battle station manning
the search lights, and the day the torpedoes unexpectedly fell short of
USS Picking reunion, July 1966. Ralph
Reitmeyer is seated front row, second from the right.
Captain Semmes is seated next to Ralph, third from the right.
Ralph and Dolores Reitmeyer lived
and prospered in Brentwood until 2000, when they purchased their retirement
home in Clairton.
Today, at ninety-four years of age,
Ralph still lives at his home in Clairton. Dolores passed away in 2001.
Since then, Ralph spends most his time relaxing, working on crossword
puzzles, reminiscing about the old days and doing all he can to enjoy his
Shipfitter Leo J. Reitmeyer - United States Navy
USS Medusa (AR-1) - 1941/1945
Leo John Reitmeyer was born on September
7, 1913, the sixth of ten children of Rose and August Reitmeyer. He had six
brothers, Harry, Frederick, John, Vincent, Gilbert
and Ralph, and
three sisters, Frances, Rita and Jean. The Reitmeyer family lived at 1829
Woodward Avenue, then moved to 516 Bellaire Avenue in 1930.
Leo was a graduate of Resurrection
Elementary and South Hills High School. Like his brothers John and Ralph,
Leo also served in the United States Navy during World War II. He left
home to join the Navy on May 2, 1938 and was stationed aboard the USS
Medusa, a repair ship that was moored at Pearl Harbor on December 7,
Skilled in metal-working like his
older brother John, Leo was assigned as a shipfitter. A naval Shipfitter's
duties include fabricating, assembling and erecting all structural parts of
a ship. They were the skilled mechanics who kept a ship at sea structurally
sound. In battle, they were called upon to perform whatever tasks necessary
to keep their ship seaworthy.
Shipfitter Leo Reitmeyer was aboard
the USS Medusa on that fateful December morning, the day that will live in
infamy, and witnessed first-hand the Japanese attack that prompted America's
entry into the war.
The Repair Ship USS Medusa (AR-1)
at Pearl Harbor in February 1942.
The USS Medusa (AR-1) was one of the ships that fired some of
America's first shots of World War II. While already responding to enemy
aircraft, they also engaged one of the Japanese mini-submarines sent to
infiltrate Pearl Harbor ahead of the carrier-based air attacks. The Medusa
fired upon, then tracked, the enemy intruder until the destroyer USS
Monaghan arrived to put the submarine out of action.
During the air attacks,
anti-aircraft and machine gunners from the Medusa brought down two Japanese
Aichi D3A1 dive bombers.
After the attack, the ship and her
crew went to work in her primary role as a repair ship, providing equipment,
ammunition, food, beverages and fuel to many of the ships and units in and
around the harbor. The ship also assisted in efforts to rescue men trapped
in the hull of the capsized anti-aircraft training ship Utah.
The damaged USS Curtiss (AV-4), left,
and USS Medusa (AR-1), at their
moorings soon after the Japanese raid on December 7, 1941.
The USS Medusa remained in Pearl
Harbor for over a year, assigned to the Service Force, to aid in the
clean-up efforts around the port.
In April 1943 the ship headed for
the combat area in the South Pacific. The ship was involved in repair work
at several of the fleet service ports, with duty at Havannah Harbor, Milne
Bay, Guadalcanal, Manus Island and San Pedro Bay in the Philippines. When
the war ended, the Medusa continued fleet repair work until returning
to the United States on October 31, 1945.
Shipfitter 1st Class Leo Reitmeyer
(second from left) and shipmates in Pearl Harbor.
From February 22 to September 27,
1944, Leo was assigned to a duty station in San Diego. Here he met and
married his wife Helen Torisky, on November 4, 1944, in Saint James Cathedral.
The ceremony was performed by the Most Reverend Charles F. Buddy, Bishop
of the Diocese of San Diego.
Shipfitter Leo Reitmeyer continued
his service in the Navy for another two years, retiring as a ten-year
veteran on February 27, 1948.
Back home with family at 530
After his days in the Navy, Leo and
Helen returned to Pittsburgh, where he began a career as a Postal Service
employee. First they lived in Penn Hills, then moved to Brookline where the
couple purchased a home on Midland Avenue.
Helen and Leo had three kids:
Leo Jr., Francis and Kathy. World War II veteran and long-time Brookline
resident Leo Reitmeyer, a Pearl Harbor survivor, passed away on June 28,
2000. He is buried in Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery.
USS Medusa (AR-1) - Pearl
The following is an excerpt from the
report of the Commanding Officer of the USS Medusa, Lt. Commander John Miller,
on the actions of the ship and crew during the Japanese attack on Pearl
"About 0755 I heard a loud explosion,
and looking out the port of my room, saw what appeared to be the hanger on the
south end of Ford Island in flames and a large column of smoke reaching into
The General Alarm was sounded
immediately and all hands went to General Quarters. On my way to the bridge
I gave the magazine keys to the Gunner's Mate on duty with orders to open the
forward magazine, then the after magazine.
Enemy planes appeared to make a
simultaneous attack – the bombers attacking Ford Island coming from the
Southwest, and the torpedo planes coming from the Southeast.
On reaching the bridge orders were
given to the engine room to get ready to get underway immediately. I then
proceeded to the Signal Bridge where Mr. Foley was in charge of Fire Control.
He was mounting two .30 caliber machine guns, one on each end of the Signal
At approximately 0805 the first shot
was fired by the Medusa from #5 3" A.A. gun. From this period on I have no
estimate of time but both A.A. guns and both machine guns kept up a continuous
fire during the attacks. The majority of planes attacking the Medusa-Curtiss
sector were flying at an altitude of not over 400 feet; a few were not over 100
During the attack it was reported that
a submarine periscope was sighted about 1000 yards on our starboard quarter or
about 500 yards astern of the Curtiss. I gave orders to open fire on the
periscope – shortly afterward the Curtiss opened fire. The submarine fired a
torpedo at a small dock astern of Curtiss. The submarine then broached to the
surface with conning tower in plain sight. Many shots could plainly be seen
hitting the conning tower from both the Medusa and Curtiss. While being shelled,
the submarine appeared by be backing toward the Curtiss.
About this time the Monaghan (DD354)
was seen standing down the channel west of Ford Island. She headed directly for
the submarine at about fifteen knots. The order cease firing was given when
Monaghan was abeam of the Curtiss. She appeared to pass immediately over the
submarine and dropped two depth charges. The first charge appeared to drop right
on top of the submarine as the volume of water shooting into the air was heavily
colored with a black substance. The second charge did not have the black
The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor
brought the United States into World War II.
The Commanding Officer of the Monaghan
should be commended for the promptness with which he made the attack, and the
excellent seamanship displayed in very restricted waters.
I definitely saw four planes shot down.
One fell on the boat deck of the Curtiss and burst into flames; one dropped a bomb
close to the stern of the Medusa and immediately thereafter disintegrated as the
result of a shell hit which I believe was made by Medusa #6 A.A.
One flew over the bow of the Medusa
about 200 feet in the air and was met by a barrage from our .30 caliber machine
guns and a strong barrage from Destroyer Mine Division Three. This plane fell in
the water about 1500 yards on our port beam and was picked up next day by a
One fell on the bank astern of the
Medusa where the engine and a part of the wing appear to be imbedded in the
The courage and conduct shown by the
officers and men who came under my personal supervision was of the highest order
especially when one considers the surprise element which entered into the attack.
Each man aboard performed deeds which in ordinary times would single him out for
the highest commendation.
Newspapers across the country carried
the news of the Japanese sneak attack.
President Roosevelt asked for, and received, a Declaration of War.
In keeping with the Reitmeyer family
tradition of military service, Leo J. Reitmeyer's grandson, Nathan Reitmeyer,
spent five years on active duty as a United States Marine, serving as a
rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. Nathan also served on Embassy
Duty as a Marine Security Guard in Vladivostok, Russia, and in Geneva, Switzerland.
He retired from the Marine Corps with the rank of Sergeant.
Nathan then worked for almost a decade
throughout the country of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, employed by the
Government as a contractor with Dyncorp, conducting High-Threat PSD (Protection
Security Detail) for government officials and diplomats, including the President
and Vice-President of the United States. Nathan Reitmeyer is currently working
as a police officer and sheriff's deputy with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s
Sergeant Nathan Reitmeyer and fellow
Marines with President William Jefferson Clinton.
Nathan is directly to the left of the President.
Sgt. Vincent J. Reitmeyer - United States Army Cook
North Africa, Sicily and Italy
Vincent J. Reitmeyer was born on
May 26, 1911, the fifth of ten children of Rose and August Reitmeyer.
He had six brothers, Harry, Frederick, John, Leo, Gilbert and Ralph, and three sisters, Frances, Rita and Jean. The
Reitmeyer family lived at 1829 Woodward Avenue, then moved to 516 Bellaire
Avenue in 1930.
Vince was a graduate of Resurrection
Elementary and left South Hills High School at age sixteen to work as a meat
cutter for a local grocer. After a few years working alongside a professional
butcher, Vince had mastered the trade and had achieved quite a reputation
at carving a side of beef.
At age thirty, on March 13, 1942,
Vince was drafted into the United States Army. The master butcher was,
without much debate, rated as a cook. From the beginning, Vince's prowess
with the clever earned him a reputation as a man skilled in the art of
preparing meat. He achieved the rank of Sergeant before sailing for Italy
on January 12, 1944.
A Tank destroyer crew show their
enthusiasm at the arrival of the rations
truck with their Christmas turkey. 5th Army, Bisomo Area, Italy.
For almost two years stationed here
in the United States, Vince fed the trainees passing through the early
stages of the American War Machine. Then, during his twenty month tour of
duty on the Italian boot, Vince traveled along with his unit, keeping the chow
lines moving and his troops well fed.
Vince Reitmeyer was serving in Northern
Italy when the War in Europe came to an end on May 7, 1945. He was discharged
from the service five months later, on October 24.
After the war, Vince and his
wife Helen purchased a home in Brookline, where they lived with their
son Hugh David. Vince worked as a butcher for several of the local
grocery chains. He passed away on July 7, 1983 and is buried at Saint
John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery.
United States Joint Service
Color Guard on parade at Fort Myer, Virginia.
The Reitmeyer Family - A Strong Military Tradition
The Reitmeyer family of Brookline
has a strong military tradition. In addition to the contributions and
sacrifice of the four family brothers, John, Leo, Vince and Ralph, during
World War II, future generations of the family have also gone on to
distinguished military careers. A Reitmeyer son has served in all
five branches of the Armed Forces: Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force
and Coast Guard.
Following in their father's footsteps,
Ralph Reitmeyer's first and second born, Ralph Jr. and John, both served
in the Air Force. Harry Reitmeyer, brother of John, Leo, Vince and Ralph,
had seven children of his own: Harry Jr. Bob, Sue, David, Annys, and twins
Tim and Tom.
Of Harry Reitmeyer's seven children,
four went on to serve in the United States Armed Forces. Harry Jr. served in
the Army during the 1950s. Bob was a Navy Pilot in the early 1960s. David was
an Army Helicopter Pilot who completed two tours of duty in Vietnam. Harry's
youngest son, Tom, spent twenty years as a Naval Aviator, reaching the rank
In keeping with the tradition, and taking
it to the next level, Tom Reitmeyer's son Peter is a twenty-six year Marine
Corps aviator who served during the War on Terror and was a member of the
Presidential Command Pilot. Peter retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
in February 2018. Tom's youngest son, Joseph, is a Lieutenant Commander in the
United States Coast Guard. Finally, Leo Reitmeyer's grandson Nathan served five
years in the Marine Corps and spent nearly ten years in Iraq as a military
contractor for Dyncorp.
Commander Tom Reitmeyer - United States Navy
F14 Tomcat - Radio Intercept Officer
Tom Reitmeyer was born October 15,
1951. He attended Resurrection Elementary and graduated from South Hills
Catholic High School in 1970. Four years later he had earned a degree in
Urban Management from the University of Pittsburgh. After an unsuccessful
run for State Legislator, Tom applied for a Navy Commission in 1977. He
was following in the footsteps of his older brother Bob, a former Navy
After spending four-plus years in
Naval Intelligence, he switched to duty on an F14 Tomcat fighter-interceptor. Tom was a flight officer, or Radar
Intercept Officer (RIO), responsible for the fighter's weapons and
Radar Intercept Officer Tom
Reitmeyer, March 1989.
On April 15, 1986, Tom flew a
mission in support of the United State's bombing of Libya. On that mission, his carrier-based F14
flew along as fighter escort for the raid. The attack was in reprisal
for a series of terrorist bombings by extremist groups with ties to
the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Tom's Navy career continued for
another decade until his retirement in 1997. After twenty years of
distinguished service, he had reached the rank of Commander.
In addition to his undergraduate
degree in management, Tom Reitmeyer also earned a Master's Degree in
administration. He spent time as an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon
University, where he taught "Leadership and Ethics." With over fifteen
years experience in private industry, Tom is the founder of Decision Now,
a leadership, consulting and coaching firm.
Tom currently lives in
Virginia Beach. He and his ex-wife Kim Kearns Reitmeyer (Elizabeth-Seton
High School '73) have raised four children: Peter, Maggie, Molly and Joey.
Kim now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, near their two daughters and their
Continuing the Reitmeyer family
military heritage, Commander Tom Reitmeyer's oldest son, Peter, is a retired
Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps who served as a naval
aviator. Tom's youngest son, Joseph, is a Lieutenant Commander in the United
States Coast Guard, currently serving in Alaska. Both Joseph and Peter saw
duty in the Middle Eastern Theatre during the present-day War on
Peter's Marine Corps career began in
December 1991. After basic training, he was a assigned as a Rifleman in I Company,
3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment from September 1992 through July 1996. First
a basic rifleman, he was promoted first to Fire Team Leader and then to Squad
Leader. During this time he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the
University of Pittsburgh.
From March 1997 through December 1999,
he attended Officer Training School as a Student Naval Aviator. He was then
assigned as Intelligence Officer and UN-1N Iroqois pilot with HMLA-269 from May
2000 through January 2002. His next assignment was as a Pilot Training Officer
with HMM-263 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, managing pilot training for the Light
Attack Detachment and flying Combat Operations as a UH-1N pilot.
Beginning in July 2003, his next year
was spent as a Forward Air Controller with the 2nd Tank Battalion, coordinating
and controlling the operations of tactical aircraft in the terminal phase of
Close Air Support missions. The following year was spent as an Intelligence
Officer with HMLA-267, this time managing the Squadron's Intelligence Department
and serving as a UH-1N Instructor Pilot.
In October 2005 Peter was transfered to
the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to manage the Squadron's Flightline Division
and fly combat operations. After eleven months he attended the Marine Corps
University, where he earned a Masters Degree in Military Operational Art and
Science. He then served as a faculty member from June 2007
through August 2008.
In January 2009 he became a Future
Operations Officer with the 2nd Marine Air Wing, where he practiced the skills
to conduct planning and coordination of all USMC aviation assets in theater.
He also flew additional combat operations. Then, from September 2009 through
August 2011, Peter served as Operations Officer in HMLA-467.
During this time he was deployed with
the 2nd Marine Air Wing to Operation Iraqi Freedom (1/2009-9/2009) and to
Haiti for Operation Unified Response, providing earthquake relief
(1/2010-4/2010). By this time Officer Reitmeyer had achieved the rank of
Major Peter Reitmeyer's next assignment
was with the prestigious Marine Helicopter Squadron-One as Presidential Command
Pilot and Aviation Maintenance Officer. This assignment began in August 2011
and lasted nearly four years. During this time, his duties were
He supervised the maintenance department
consisting of 500 personnel, nineteen Executive aircraft, sixteen Cargo
helicopters and twelve Tilt-rotar aircraft along with the associated ground
and test equipment. He also directed helicopter operations and coordinated
with the President's Emergency Operations Center to ensure seamless support
to the President of the United States. In addition, Peter oversaw the
retirement of the CH-46 Chinook helicopter from the presidential support
mission and the integration of the MV-22 Osprey.
Major Peter Reitmeyer stands next to the
Presidential helocopter (left)
and Marine One taking off from the White House lawn.
Peter Reitmeyer also served as
VH-3D Sea King/VH-60N White Hawk White House Helicopter Command Pilot,
planning and flying worldwide missions in support of the President,
Vice President and White House. He also served as a Marine One instructor
When Marine One lifted off from the
White House lawn carrying the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the
United States, we could all rest assured that President Barack Obama and his
family were in the capable hands of a decorated veteran pilot, born in Brookline,
with a long and storied family history of dedicated military service to our
country, and strong neighborhood roots.
The President and First Lady on their
way towards boarding Marine One. It was Major Reitmeyer's first lift.
In June 2015, Marine Naval Aviator
Peter Reitmeyer left the Presidential Transport Squadron and was assigned
to the United States Naval Academy as Marine Detachment Chief of Staff. By
now promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he served as the Chief Operating Officer
for all Marine Corps activities at the Academy.
On February 2, 2018, after a storied
career spanning twenty-six years and two months, Lieutenant Colonel Peter
Reitmeyer retired from the United States Marine Corps. He is currently working
as a commercial pilot and a Marine Corps Historian. He is currently involved
in researching the Battles of Pelleliu and Iwo Jima.
A Man of Community Service and Dedication
Tim Reitmeyer is the twin brother of
Commander Tom Reitmeyer (retired). Tim is a lifelong Brookline resident, and
he helped considerably with this documentation of his family's military
tradition. It began with a photo of his Uncle John Reitmeyer, a U.S. sailor
who was lost in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, and has grown into quite a
chronicle of a Brookline family whose military tradition began in 1929 and
continues through to the present day.
This history of the Reitmeyer's who
served in the Armed Forces is not only an important part of Tim's family
heritage, but a vital piece of Brookline history as well. So many of our
community's young men and women have answered the call to duty over the years.
Their courage, dedication and sacrifice should be remembered, and celebrated
each year on Memorial and Veteran's Day.
Tim is one of the Reitmeyer clan who
did not enter the service. There was a moment, after graduation from college,
when he met with a Marine Corps recruiter and discussed his options. Aviation
looked like an interesting possibility, but after failing the eye test, his
options became limited. As a result, Tim opted to stay home in Brookline and
pursue his interest in the real estate business.
Along with his daily travels as an
agent for Howard Hanna Realty Service, Tim has always found time to volunteer
his time for the benefit of the community. For twenty years he was a coach in
the Brookline Little League, like his father Harry before him. He is also a
member of several civic organizations, including the Brookline Chamber of
Commerce and the South Pittsburgh Development Corporation. Tim has made
community service his call to arms.
Having known Tim for several years, I've
seen him wearing many hats around town. The one that always sticks out in
my mind is the baseball cap he donned for so many years at the Community
Center. In his twenty-one years as a manager, Tim's Little League teams won
five BLLA championships (1992, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2006).
His 1998-1999 Poremski Plumbing teams won a record thirty-one games in a row.
Tim's assistant coach during those two memorable title seasons was his son
Kevin. As a manager, Kevin added his own championship to the league ledger
in 2005 with his Conditioned Air team.
Coaches George Nassif, Rich Munizza, Tim
and Kevin Reitmeyer
after Little League championship victory in 1999.
Tim and Kevin Reitmeyer's record
seasons broke the previous undefeated mark set by Brookline's 1955 Pony League team, whose winning streak reached twenty-eight. That 1955
team was coached by his father, Harry Reitmeyer.
Tim may have hung up his cap and cleats,
but you can still see him around town at the various social and civic
gatherings, or maybe just cruising by in his Howard Hanna SUV. He is a man
of service and dedication, and a good friend as well to generations of
* Thanks to Tim Reitmeyer
for all his help with this webpage, and for so much more over the years. *
Written by Clint Burton - May 28, 2012; Updated December 8, 2018