RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Wendell A. Leier, a resident of Rutherford, died Saturday, July 9. He was 91.
Born in Brooklyn, he was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Leier.
In 1924, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. during World War II, as a gunner on the B-24 Liberator. During his tour, his plane was attacked by a fighter group of Japanese Zeros. He managed to take out a few of them with his bow turret gun but one Zero slipped through and shot and damaged the fuselage and an engine. Although his plane was badly damaged, he managed to return to an emergency air field in Tacloban, Philippines 400 miles away and landed safely with only a few gallons of fuel remaining.
For his heroism and bravery against the enemy, he received the Air Medal, Ribbon bar of the Navy, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon. He also received several commendations from the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, and even from President Harry S. Truman.
After his time in the Navy, he attended college and graduated with a BS in 1952. He was employed by Stevens Paint in Stony Point, N.Y. as a chemist for 40 years, retiring in 1994. He was a member of the American Legion Post 0139 in Lyndhurst.
He is survived by his children, Thomas and his wife Cheryl and Catherine Scott and her husband Robert; grandchildren, Bryan, Ricine and Robert James Scott; and his former wife Joan Leier.
He was predeceased by two brothers and a sister.
Funeral services were private.