In Memory of
U.S. Naval Lieutenant, Junior Grade Rockham, South Dakota
Faulk County

January 11, 1915 – November 27, 1951
Died in Crash of a Navy PBM Sea Plane off Coast of California


Ralph Chester Janes was born on January 11, 1915, to Chester Pruyn and Freida (Vetter) Janes in Miranda, Faulk County, South Dakota. His mother died when he was a toddler, so he was raised by Thomas and Carrie Hogeboom, his aunt and uncle. He graduated from Rockham High School and then for two years attended Northern State College in Aberdeen, where he was trained as a teacher. Ralph enlisted in the Navy and entered active service at Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 18, 1942, during WW II. He was trained to be a pilot first at Wold- Chamberlain Air Field in Minneapolis and then at Corpus Christi, Texas. He was then had further training with the VB-2-2 Operational Training Squadron in Lake City, Florida, and was then assigned to the Patrol Bombing Squadron (VPB-142) and served in combat. Lt Janes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his service in WW II.

After he came back from WW II, he went to inactive status on November 25, 1945. He then married Betty Ann Peters on March 20, 1946, at San Diego, California. They had three children: Lyle, Mary, and Carol. During the Korean War, Lt. Janes was recalled to active duty and was later assigned to Air Wing 14, San Diego Naval Air Station.

Lt. Ralph Janes, on November 27, 1951, while on a Navy PBM (Martin Mariner) seaplane off the coast of California, was killed when the plane, “a two-engined craft, plunged straight downward, hitting the water with a terrific splash.” The accident occurred seven miles west of San Diego and killed all eleven on board.

His body was recovered from the ocean, returned to South Dakota with a military escort, and funeral services were held in Redfield, South Dakota. He was then buried with military honors at Grace Cemetery in Rockham.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Chelsea Diane Kerr, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on July 28, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by the South Dakota Nation Guard Museum, the Faulkton Record, December 31, 1951 issue, and an application for South Dakota veteran’s bonus. (P/S/F/A 8/5/04.)