Francis Earl LeClear


Francis Earl LeClear was the son of Harold Heath & Bernice Etta (Brainard) LeClear. He was born on July 15, 1915 in Michigan, USA.

He married Jessie Elanore McPhee. She was the daughter of Glenn Irving & Bessie Marie (Shaver) McPhee.

On May 7, 1941, Francis enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was active duty when World War II began.

He serving as a member of the Coast Artillery Corps in the Pacific Southwest Theater (Battle of the Philippines). After the Philippine Islands fell to the Japanese, he was taken as a Prisoner of War (POW). His rank at the time was Second Lieutenant. 

Following 28 months (over 2 years!) of Japanese incarceration, Francis (along with 749 Allied POWs) were being carried on the Japanese Hellship, Shinyo Maru, from the Philippine Islands to Manila. After 19 Days being held deep in the cargo holds, the unmarked POW carrier was torpedoed and sunk by an American Submarine, the USS Paddle (SS-263), in the Sulu Sea (Off Mindanao, Philippine Islands) on September 7, 1944.

Francis was one of the few "Survivors of the Shinyo Maru" (Only 82 POWs managed to survive). After making it to shore, he was hidden by a Filipino family until October 30, 1944 he was recorded as having been returned/liberated.

Records indicate his wife and four daughters made a trip from Bremerhaven, Germany on April 23, 1955 and arrived in New York City on May 2, 1955. It is likely that they were visiting Francis there. It is unclear if he was stationed in Germany.

As of 1954, they lived in Bath, Clinton County, Michigan at 6083 Clark Street.

In 1957 and 1959, the Rapid City Directories indicate that Francis & Jessie were living in Rapid City, Pennington County, South Dakota, USA. Here, Francis was noted as working for the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (U.S. Army). Their address was 3725 West Main.

After 20 years of military service, Captain LeClear retired from the U.S. Army on May 31, 1961. After his retirement, they moved back to Bath, Clinton County, Michigan.

Francis died on November 12, 1990 in Clemmons, Forsyth County, North Carolina. He was laid to rest on November 15, 1990 at Ft. Custer National Cemetery (Plot: D, 0, 41) in Augusta, Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Jessie was later laid to rest beside him.

Together, Jessie & Francis had five known children:

Cherry A. (LeClear) Fessenden [living]

Judy M. (LeClear) Driver [living]

Carol D. LeClear [living]

Nancy K. (LeClear) Easterling [living]

Mark Allen LeClear [living]