From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
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Lee Pancake '31

Date of birth: April 24, 1907

Date of death: October 26, 1942

Age: 35

Lucky Bag

From the 1931 Lucky Bag:


1931 Pancake 1.jpg

From Find A Grave:

Malta, Mont., Nov. 3.-Lieut. Com. Lee Pancake, 35, of the navy, son of Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Pancake of Malta, was killed in action in the south Pacific and buried at sea, according to word received by his parents.

Pancake was born in North Dakota and came to Phillips county, Montana, about 20 years ago with his parents, who homesteaded north of Wagner. He was graduated from Malta high school and from Anapolis. His career in the navy was brilliant as is indicated by the fact that he was one of the youngest lieutenant commanders.

He was married in Maryland. His wife is living on the west coast. Other survivors are three sisters, Mrs. Carl Veseth, Malta; Mrs. Rudolph Erickson, Saco; Mrs. Gilbert P. Richardson, Chester; and four brothers, Dick of Malta; Leslie and James of Central Valley, Calif.; and Stanley of North Wagner.

No details of the action in which Pancake lost his life were learned and the name of his ship was withheld at the request of the naval officers.

His wife was listed as next of kin; he has a memory marker in North Dakota.

Despite the Navy Cross citation below, unable to find exact details on his loss. The flagship of Destroyer Squadron 2 was USS Morris (DD 417), but there is no mention of losses aboard that ship or any other in the squadron. The September 1946 issue of SHIPMATE also gives USS Morris.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Lee Sylvester Pancake (NSN: 0-70263), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Engineering Officer of Destroyer Squadron TWO, during the operations against enemy Japanese forces off the Santa Cruz Islands, on 26 October 1942. When hostile planes launched a vicious raid against the task force to which his group was attached, Lieutenant Commander Pancake, with cool courage and utter disregard for his own personal safety, unhesitatingly volunteered to go aloft to the director platform. There, although perilously exposed to violent attack by low-flying enemy staffers, he rendered valuable assistance in the spotting of Japanese aircraft until he was killed. His conspicuous initiative and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: October 26, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Engineering Officer
Division: Destroyer Squadron 2

Class of 1931

Lee is one of 51 members of the Class of 1931 on Virtual Memorial Hall.