Lee Mathias Bargaehr was a member of the Fall Class of 1942 at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco.
He was born to Mathias and Ruth Geneva (Patterson) Bargaehr in Boise, Idaho, in 1925. His father was born on August 16, 1902 in St. Margrethen, Switzerland, while his mother was born on June 16, 1901. She died on May 27, 1967 in San Joaquin County, California.
Lee's father and mother divorced, and his father married, second, Geneva Childress. Lee continued living with his father and stepmother. Two children were born to this marriage: Anton "Andy" Lloyd, born September 25, 1931, in Glendale, California, and Neva Matalene, born October 14, 1934.
His stepmother remarried after his father died in an industrial accident in Los Angeles on October 14, 1934.
Lee went to live with his aunts, Pauline and Mathilda Bargaehr, in 1939 at 57 Seal Rock Drive in San Francisco. His Aunt Pauline was a beauty operator in San Francisco.
Lee's brother, Andy, married Patricia Ann (Roe), and they had four children: Anton "Andy" Lee, born May 24, 1951; Mark Steven, Jeanne Cristine, and Janice Diane. All the children were born in Alhambra, California, except Janice Diane, who was born in Covina, California. Patricia Ann was born on November 15, 1932, in Los Angeles.
Neva Matalene married Bradley Hawthorne Koon, and four children were born to this marriage in Pasadena, California: Rashelle Denise, Daniel, Linda Renee, Daniel Joseph, and Holly Suzanne.
Lee enrolled at Aptos Junior High School and then attended Abraham Lincoln High School. He didn't participate in sports in high school. He did enroll in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and was said to be "gung ho" with regard to his being JROTC cadet. When he was told that he wasn't to walk around with his hands in his pockets while in uniform, he sewed his front pockets shut to preclude this from happening. He subsequently rose to the rank of 2nd lieutenant in the JROTC.
He attended summer school in 1942 and graduated at the end of the session so he could enter the service. He entered the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. Lee graduated from the program as a 2nd lieutenant and became a P-51 fighter pilot. He was stationed in Hawaii for a short period before being assigned to the 78th Fighter Squardon, 15th Fighter Group based on Iwo Jima.
While in high school, Lee dated Betty Lee Desmond from the Spring Class of 1944. At the time, she was a Princess in Job's Daughters. As a consequence, Lee named his fighter plane "Princess Betty."
Lee was lost on March 31, 1945, on an escort mission. He went down in the ocean somewhere between Japan and Iwo Jima. His body was never recovered. He was awarded, posthumously, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.
Lee's name is listed on the Memorial Tablet of the Missing at the Honolulu National Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu Hawaii.