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Sgt Robert F. Van Derhaeghen
MIA Gunner aboard SBD Dauntless 54383
by Mario Novello (nephew)

Click For EnlargementRobert's father (my grandfather, Joseph Van Derhaeghen) was a Belgian immigrant who enlisted in the U.S. Army prior WW I (he was not a U.S. citizen yet) and was wounded in France in a German gas attack shortly before the Armistice. He received the Purple Heart and lived to tell the tale. He was Charter Member of the American Legion and became a U.S. citizen after the war. He also went to Texas with the U.S. Army in 1916, when Gen. Pershing went after Gen. Francisco "Pancho" Villa after the raids into U.S. territory along the border.

Sgt. Vanderhaeghen's parents received his Purple Heart posthumously. The Marine, Al Prisby, mentioned on the webpage was from Chicago also and they met in boot camp in San Diego, went together to Gunnery School and served together in the Sourth Pacific. They became best friends. They both were due for furloughs. Van was supposed to be Prisby's Best Man, but Van turned down his furlough and stayed in the islands because he had met a buddy from Chicago, Lt. Becker, and wanted to fly with him. So they stayed and were shot down and Prisby went home, married his sweetheart and had many children.

Our family was/is very patriotic. My father, Clarence Novello was an Aviation Machinists Mate aboard the U.S.S. Kadashan Bay (CVE 76) that was hit by a kamikaze (Nakajima Ki -43 Kayabusa/"Oscar") on Jan. 8, 1945 during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Philippines. Also, a pilot aboard the "Katy B", Lt. Hans Jensen had previously spotted the Japanese fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf - Oct. 1944.

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