Full name: Franklin Pletcher Root, Jr.
Date of Birth: August 25, 1918
Place of Birth: Winfield, Cowley Co., Kansas
Father and Mother’s Names: Franklin ROOT and Christine CATON
Date Entered Service: January 22, 1940 from Jackson Heights, New York.
Service Branch: Army Air Corps
Service Number: 0-416351
Rank: Second Lieutenant - Pilot
Division/Company/Unit info: 22nd Pursuit Squadron, 36th Pursuit Group, 9th Air Force.
Awards and Commendations: N/A
Riley Connection: NARA (National Archives) list Home of Record as Riley Co., Kansas. He lived in Riley County from 1922-1935 and attended Kansas State College for 3 years. Frank's father was a football and basketball coach at Kansas State College.
Date of Death (and Age): April 23, 1942 (age 23)
Place of Death: Plane crashed over the Atlantic Ocean - Aircraft/Body lost at sea.
Grave Location: Name listed on Tablets of the Missing, Battery Park, East Coast Memorial, Manhattan, New York.
Bio: Franklin Pletcher "Frank" Root, Jr. was born August 25, 1918 to Franklin Pletcher "Frank" Root, Sr. and Christine Rosette (Canton) Root in Winfield, Kansas. His middle name derives from his father's grandmother, her maiden name being Pletcher. Frank's grandfather, William Hovel Root, was actually born William Hovel Stigenwalt. His parents both died when he was a little boy and was taken in by Franklin Root (1826-1886) and wife, Adeline. William was actually never adopted but he legally had his name changed to Root. Frank's father moved the family to Manhattan, Kansas and by 1922 was a football and basketball coach for the Kansas State College. Frank grew up in Manhattan and attended Manhattan High school. He was the quarterback for the football team. After high school, Frank attended Kansas State College for three years and graduated. On June 14, 1935, Frank's mother divorced Frank, Sr. claiming "neglect." She re-married to a Joseph Blair, a writer for a publishing company, and the family lived in Queens, New York by 1940.
Frank was 21 and his brother, Canton, was 13 and were listed as step-children of Blair. In 1940, Frank joined the Army Air Corps and completed 2 years of Flight School. He was attached to the 22nd Pursuit Squadron, 36th Pursuit Group, 9th Air Force and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant During his flight training, Frank was married on May 29, 1941 in Montgomery, Alabama to Anna Katherine (Newman) Forst. Frank's unit was moved to Losey Army Airfield, Puerto Rico in January 1941 where it was equipped with Bell P-39 Airacobras and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. In Puerto Rico, the 36th served as part of the defense force for the Caribbean area and Panama Canal, and flew antisubmarine patrols. Frank was killed during a training flight when his plane crashed into the Ocean.
Iola Register, Iola, Kansas, Wednesday April 29, 1942 (Front Page):
Information Meager on Lt. Root's Death Monday's Manhattan Mercury-Chronicle carries a picture and story of the death of Frank P. Root Jr., grandson of W. H. Root of Iola, which adds only a little information to the account published in Monday's Register.
According to the Manhattan paper, the telegram received by Frank Root Sr. there read: "Deeply regret to inform you information received death of your son Second Lieut. Frank P. Root Jr., U. S. Army who was killed in an airplane accident at sea in the Atlantic area April 23, not due to enemy action,...Signed, Adjutant General, Washington"
Mr. Root presumes that this means that the young man was lost at sea and his body not recovered. Frank Root Jr., in addition to his other accomplishments, was a talented xylophone player and had appeared many times with the Manhattan municipal band as a soloist in summer concerts.
When he was about 15 years old, he received a medal for saving another boy's life in an accident on a lake in Wisconsin.