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Robert Paul Laderach

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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Robert Paul Laderach
1917-1941

"We must be the great arsenal of democracy."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Robert Paul Laderach was born on May 8, 1917, at Beverly in Randolph County, West Virginia. His father, Ernest Laderach, was an immigrant from Berne, Switzerland. Robert’s grandparents, Gottfried and Anne Laderach, brought their three children to America aboard the St. Laurent, which departed from La Havre and Brest, France, and arrived in New York on May 19, 1880. Their children were Rosa (age 5), Ernest (age 4), and Frank (age 2). Anne died in 1907 and Gottfried died in 1926. Both are buried in the Beverly Cemetery in Randolph County.

Robert’s father, Ernest (Anst) Laderach Sr., was born in Switzerland on May 13, 1876. Ernest and Mary Agnes Adams were married in Randolph County on August 24, 1916. Their children were Robert Paul, Mary Elizabeth, Anne Pauline (Mrs. Joseph Eugene Pingley), Margaret V. (Mrs. Owen C. Bosworth), Ernest Lee, and William Ralph.

When Robert’s father, Ernest Laderach, registered on September 12, 1918, for the World War I draft, he indicated that he was blind in his right eye. He was a farmer who was described as being of medium height and build with light brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Robert Paul Laderach attended public schools at Beverly, West Virginia, and was a Methodist. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1937 and by 1941 had attained the rank of Fire Controlman Second Class. On December 7, 1941, while aboard the battleship USS Arizona, he was killed when the Arizona came under attack by the Japanese air force.
memorial to USS Arizona

Memorial to the USS Arizona. Courtesy National Park Service

Robert Laderach was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the Asian-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the American Campaign Medal-WWII.

purple heart service medal victory medal Asian-Pacific Campaign medal American Campaign medal

One thousand, one hundred seventy-seven officers and crewmen lost their lives during the bomb attack on the USS Arizona. Only 334 survived. The bodies of many were never found. Crew members in the aft portion of the ship were killed by the concussion of the massive explosion and were unable to be identified. The ship became their final resting place.

Because of the intense fire, bodies that were removed during salvage operations were so severely burned or dismembered that they were not identifiable. In 1941, DNA techniques were not yet available as a tool for positive identification. Therefore, these remains were placed in temporary mass graves, and in 1949 were reburied and marked as “UNKNOWNS” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).

memorial

Detail from memorial on the USS Arizona. Courtesy National Park Service

A marble wall in the shrine room on the USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu bears the names of Arizona’s honored dead with the following inscription, “To the Memory of the Gallant Men Here Entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on 7 December 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona.” Robert Paul Laderach’s name is among those listed.

marker

Marker for Robert Paul Laderach in Hazelwood Cemetery. Courtesy Susan Richardson

A military grave marker was placed in the Hazelwood Cemetery in Elkins, West Virginia, to honor the memory of Robert Paul Laderach. The West Virginia legislature honored his memory by naming a bridge for Robert Laderach near the community of Beverly.
bridge

Robert Paul Laderach Memorial Bridge on U.S. 250 near Beverly, West Virginia. Courtesy Lynda Davis

On September 6, 1944, Robert’s younger brother, Ernest Lee Laderach, enlisted at Huntington, West Virginia, in the U.S. Army and served in France and Germany.

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
June 2016

Honor...

Robert Paul Laderach

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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