Korean War Veterans Honor Roll

Samuel H. Rainey

Corporal, U.S. Air Force


345th Bomber Squadron,
98th Bomber Wing

Entered Service from New jersey
Died March 28, 1952
Memorialized at the Veterans Triangle
                                   Davis & Garfield Avenues
                                   Mount Ephraim NJ
Awards: Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal.
PFC Samuel H. Rainey
after completing
Basic Training
Lackland AFB,
San Antonio TX
Late August 1950
PFC Samuel H. Rainey
Aerial Gunnery School
Lowery AFB,
Denver CO
Late 1950 or early 1951
Click on Image to Enlarge
Corporal Samuel H. Rainey
Yokota AFB, Japan - Late 1951 or early 1952
Click on Image to Enlarge

CORPORAL SAMUEL H. RAINEY was the son of Abraham and Margaret Rainey. He was born on January 23, 1933. The Rainey family lived on the the North Black Horse Pike at 4th Avenue in Mount Ephraim NJ, where Mr. and Mrs. Rainey operated a small grocery store. Besides Sam, the family included a younger brother, John "Jack" Rainey

Sam Rainey enlisted in the United States Air Force at age 17 on July 6, 1950 along with a school friend, Bernie Lorenz. He was trained as an aerial gunner and assigned to the 345th Bomber Squadron, 98th Bomber Wing which flew B-29A Superfortress bombers out of Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. On March 28, 1952, while on a night bombing raid on North Korea, one of the aircraft's engines caught fire. The order to bail out was given. Corporal Rainey and four other crewmen bailed out over the Sea of Japan. One crewman came down on land and was rescued, but Corporal Rainey and three other crewmen, Staff Sergeant Elliot Zellars, Sergeant Phillip McManus, and  Corporal Robert Knott were lost at sea and died of exposure and drowning. The B-29 managed to return to base and land safely. Corporal Rainey's remains were not recovered, and he was declared dead on April 22, 1952. Sam Rainey had just turned 19 when he was killed.

Corporal Rainey
at Yokota AFB
Checking his
.50 caliber machine guns
The B-29
"Vicious Roomer"
Click on Image to Enlarge

       In the spring of 2003, a Korean War memorial was installed at the Veterans Triangle at Davis and Garfield Avenues in Sam Rainey's hometown of Mount Ephraim NJ. The monument was a joint project of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War posts in Mount Ephraim.

       The remarks below were made by Bernie Lorenz, Sam Rainey's boyhood friend.

In past years, those who attend the annual Memorial Day service, have heard me announce the name of a friend and Mount Ephraim resident who lost his life during the war in Korea.   Today, you will hear his story.

 Corporal Samuel H. Rainey,  United States Air Force.

Born:  23 January 1933            Died:  28 March 1952

Sam was an ordinary teenager, residing at the corner of Fourth Ave and Black Horse Pike, where his parents, Abraham and Margaret Rainey, operated a small grocery store.  Growing up in Mount Ephraim, Sam did the things all young men did in small town America 1950;  go to school, tinker with cars, summer days at the pool, hang out at Dick’s soda shop and wonder about the future.  Sam’s future however, would soon take a more serious path.

 25 June 1950-  South Korea is invaded, and our country is involved in a new war. World War 2 is barely five years past and still fresh in our minds.  Talk turns to joining the Air Force. I am enlisting and Sam wants to go too, but there’s a catch, he is seventeen and needs parental permission. Not to be left behind, Sam pressures his parents until his mother grudgingly agrees to sign his enlistment release.

 6 July 1950-  Sam and I are Air Force recruits on our way to San Antonio, Texas. Basic Training is a blur:  Up at 4:30 AM, train all day, write a letter home, lights out at 10:00 PM. The weeks pass quickly and then graduation and our first stripes. Advanced Training awaits, anticipation is high.  Sam doesn’t have long to wait, for within a week his orders are posted. Aerial Gunnery training in Denver, Colorado. I have yet to be assigned and so, we part company for what will be the last time.

 Fast forward a year to November 1951-  Young Sam, now eighteen and wearing the wings of an Aerial Gunner, finds himself at Yokota Air Base in Japan, flying bombing missions to North Korea in a B-29. The word is, thirty-five missions and back to the USA, six months at the outside. Night after night the bombers thunder over enemy territory. Hours of monotony are punctuated by moments of terror.  Biting cold, snow, rain, anti-aircraft flak and MiG fighters.  Through December, then January 1952, the missions continue and he is now a combat veteran. 

 January 23rd, his birthday!  Sam is nineteen, a Corporal, and halfway through his overseas tour. February passes and March arrives, his tour is winding down.  Thirty-two missions completed. Three more to go, then back home.

 28 March 1952.  Mission number thirty-three begins like all the others. Crews report to their planes at 7:45 PM and begin preflighting their equipment. Two hours later Sam finishes checking his .50 caliber machine guns and takes his place in the B-29 “Vicious Roomer”. It’s cold and raining again tonight. He hopes it’s like this over North Korea, so it will be harder for the enemy gunners to find them.  9:43 PM, Take Off. Sam and the crew settle in for the long ride.  Twenty-two bombers lumber over the Sea of Japan toward their targets in North Korea.  11:27 PM, someone reports “smoke and sparks coming from number three engine!” Seconds later explosions, and fire is now reaching back to the rear edge of the wing! “Mayday! Mayday!” SOS calls are transmitted and the pilot makes a diving turn toward the nearest land. Bombs are jettisoned and the command comes, “Bail Out!”

 Snapping on his chute, Sam unhesitatingly dives through the open bomb bay doors, and with four other crewmen is swallowed up in the black overcast.

 For nineteen year old Sam and three of his crew, the war is over.

 The next day, search teams find two bodies in the frigid waters, but Sam and another crewman are never found. They are officially declared dead on 22 April 1952.

 My boyhood friend, and a Mount Ephraim son, are gone.....forever.