TracesOfWar needs your help! We miss photos of important sights in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Submit your photos to input@tracesofwar.com and it will be published!

Cheli, Ralph

Date of birth:
October 29th, 1919 (San Fransisco/California, United States)
Date of death:
April 4th, 1944 (Wewak, New Guinea)
Buried on:
American War Graves Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
Plot: 78. Grave: 930-934.
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

Major Ralph Cheli was born on October 19, 1929 in San Francisco, California as the son of Alfred and Julia Cheli.
He died March 4, 1944 as a POW at a Japanese Camp. There are two conflicting stories as to how he died. One states he was being transfered to another POW camp and the ship he was on sunk. The other story is that he actually died in the camp from wounds both from his fiery crash and injuries received at the camp. His remains were found at the camp, leaving the family to believe he died in the camp.
Ralph was surived by his wife Geraldine and infant son Ralph Jr.

Do you have more information about this person? Inform us!

Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
405th Bombardment Squadron, 38th Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces
Awarded on:
October 28th, 1943
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy. While Maj. Cheli was leading his squadron in a dive to attack the heavily defended Dagua Airdrome, intercepting enemy aircraft centered their fire on his plane, causing it to burst into flames while still 2 miles from the objective. His speed would have enabled him to gain necessary altitude to parachute to safety, but this action would have resulted in his formation becoming disorganized and exposed to the enemy. Although a crash was inevitable, he courageously elected to continue leading the attack in his blazing plane. From a minimum altitude, the squadron made a devastating bombing and strafing attack on the target. The mission completed, Maj. Cheli instructed his wingman to lead the formation and crashed into the sea."
Awarded posthumously
Medal of Honor - Army (MoH)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
This award was obtained in the form of an Oak Leave to be attached on the ribbon of the first award.
Air Medal (AM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
This award was obtained in the form of an Oak Leave to be attached on the ribbon of the first award.
Air Medal (AM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
This award was obtained in the form of an Oak Leave to be attached on the ribbon of the first award.
Air Medal (AM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
This award was obtained in the form of an Oak Leave to be attached on the ribbon of the first award.
Air Medal (AM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
This award was obtained in the form of an Oak Leave to be attached on the ribbon of the first award.
Air Medal (AM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
This award was obtained in the form of an Oak Leave to be attached on the ribbon of the first award.
Air Medal (AM)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Major (Air Corps) Ralph Cheli (ASN: 0-399830), United States Army Air Forces, was captured by Japanese forces after he was shot down on 18 August 1943, and was held as a Prisoner of War. Post-war reports indicate he was executive while in captivity.
Prisoner of War Medal

Sources