BERTRAM J. PRUEHER, LCDR, USN

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Bertram Prueher '33

Date of birth: August 5, 1912

Date of death: August 12, 1943

Age: 31

Lucky Bag

From the 1933 Lucky Bag:

Biography

1933 Prueher 1.jpg

From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup", published by the class of 1933:

Bert served in the SARATOGA until June 1935 when he went to Pensacola for flight training, and on July 22, 1936, he was designated Naval Aviator. He went to Scouting Squadron 9 for a year and then reported to the PENSACOLA for duty with Cruiser Scouting Squadron 4.

On 1 September, 1938 he was ordered to Patrol Squadron 20 at Seattle and in July 1939 to Patrol Squadron 33 at Coco Solo, Canal Zone. This duty lasted until August 1941 when Bert became Exec and later Skipper of Patrol Squadron 83 (later VB-106), first at Norfolk, and later operating on antisubmarine duty out of Natal, Brazil.

The Legion of Merit Citation awarded him for his services reads in part:
"Skillfully supervising the training of his men and leading them with courageous aggressiveness in a ruthless and persistent campaign against enemy submarines, he developed his squadron into an effective fighting force which established an exceptional record in the desstruction of hostile undersea craft and contributed immeasurably to the success of anti-submarine warfare in the South Atlantic area." He was declared Missing in Action when his plane was lost in the Mid-Atlantic on August 11, 1943, in an action for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation reads: "While engaged in special antisubmarine patrol he pressed home repeated attacks which culminated in severe damage to an enemy German submarine and eventually forced the German crew to scuttle the ship. The forceful leadership and gallant fighting spirit displayed by Lieutenant Commander Prueher in the face of fierce enemy countermeasures contributed to the successful completion of a hazardous and vital mission…" Bert was also awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Purple Heart, posthumously.

He is survived by his widow, the former Jean Farrell, daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Louis Farrell of Nashville, Tennessee; two daughters, Elizabeth Elliston (1939) and Martha Brooks (1941), and a son, Joseph Wilson (1942). Their home residence is Jackson Boulevard in Nashville, Tennessee. Bert's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph G. Prueher, live at 1630 Priddy Street, Bloomer, Wisconsin.

Loss

Bertram was lost when his PBY Catalina was shot down over the Atlantic near Brazil by a surfaced U-boat. From VP Navy:

12 AUG [1943] Lt.Cdr Prueher took off from Natal at 0900 hrs with an unprecedented gas load for this squadron (3400 gallons), intending to stay out for 15 hrs and sweep the estimated positions of two German U-Boats, which had been obtained by D/F bearings, which showed them to be at extreme range. Some time in the afternoon (no communications were ever received from the plane after take-off), a submarine was attacked and the plane was shot down on the second bombing run. The attack was assessed as a definite kill. The aircraft and the following crew members were lost: Lt.Cdr. Bertram J. Prueher, USN - Blommer, Wisc.; LT(jg) Grover C. Hannever, A-V(N) USNR - Providence,R.I.; Ens. Robert Tehan, A-V(N) USNR - St.Louis, Mo.; Ens.Eugene L.Coupe, A-V(S) USNR - Nebraska City, Neb.; Brandon, H.C. - ACRM, USN - Lithonia, Ga.; Gardner, D.W. - ARM2c USNR - Huron, S.D.; Merrick, G.G. - AOM1c USNR - Memphis, Mich.; Mihalsky,J.S 2c, USN - Whiting, Ind.; Smith, C.A. - ACMM, USN - Howard, Ida.; Van Horn, J.R. - AMM1c, USNR - Spokane, Wa.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in the Naval Academy cemetery.

Wartime Service

Bertram was involved in an attack on U-161 in the Atlantic near Brazil on December 13, 1942; believe this to be the same as cited in his Distinguished Flying Cross below. (The U-boat crew did not scuttle the ship, though.) He was executive officer of Patrol Squadron (VP) 83, flying a PBY Catalina.

In January 1943 he took command of Patrol Squadron (VP) 83; the squadron was re-designated Bombing Squadron (VB) 107 on May 15, 1943.

Legion of Merit

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Legion of Merit (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Bertram Joseph Prueher (NSN: 0-72372), United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States during World War II. Skillfully leading his pilots in a ruthless and persistent campaign against enemy submarines from April 1942 to August 1943, Lieutenant Commander Prueher developed his squadron into an effective fighting force which established an exceptional record in the destruction of hostile undersea craft.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 325 (April 1944)
Action Date: April 1942 - August 1943
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Bertram Joseph Prueher (NSN: 0-72372), United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight during World War II. Persistently tracking a hostile submarine while piloting a bomber in the South Atlantic, Lieutenant Commander Prueher pressed home repeated attacks which severely damaged the U-boat and ultimately force the Nazi crew to scuttle the submarine.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 326 (May 1944)
Action Date: World War II
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander


Class of 1933

Bertram is one of 37 members of the Class of 1933 in Memorial Hall.