Robert Wolbern Vonder Mehden was a member of the Fall Class of 1943, one of Abraham Lincoln High School's pioneer classes.
He was born on February 26, 1926, to William and Alice Josephine (Reynolds) Vonder Mehden in San Francisco. His father was born in Germany on April 14, 1887, and died in San Francisco in January 1976, while his mother was born on November 17, 1892, in Redwood City, California, and died in Redding, California, on February 9, 1981. His parents are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.
He had one brother, William Reynolds, born in December, 1927, in San Francisco. Bill Married Theresa (Millican), and they had five children: Paul, June 13, 1954; William, July 27, 1956; Mark, November 28, 1962; Annette, July 11, 1967; and Wayne, January 13, 1972. Bill graduated with the Spring Class of 1945.
Robert Attended Argonne Grammar School and Presidio Junior High School before enrolling at a George Washington High School through his sophomore year. He then transferred to Abraham Lincoln High School. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln with the Fifth Commencement Class on February 3, 1944.
The 1943-1944 Roundup states the following about Bob Vander Mehden: ". . . wants to be a business man . . . called 'Vondy' . . . activity at Lincoln: copying homework."
He enlisted in the Army and was selected for enrollment in the Army Specialist Training Program. He was ordered to Montana State College in Bozeman, Montana, for training. However, the program was soon discontinued. Because of the need for infantrymen, he was assigned for infantry training at Camp Roberts, California.
Upon completion of infantry training, he was ordered to the European Theatre of Operations and assigned to the 66th Infantry Division in England. Subsequently, he was assigned to the 262nd Infantry Regiment. The division was eventually ordered into the combat zone to provide reinforcements for the Battle of the Bulge.
The regiment boarded the troop transport Leopoldville a converted Belgian luxury liner, in Southampton, England, on December 23, 1944. It was torpedoed by the German submarine U486 on December 24th, just 5 miles from the Leopoldville's destination of Cherbourg, France. He and his company were below deck and unable to get out. The ship sank immediately with an ultimate loss of over 800 GIs. The bodies of 493 GIs were never recovered; Robert Vonder Mehden was one of those never recovered.
The World War II Honor List of Dead & Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel from California notes Robert Vonder Mehden was a private first class and killed in action.
Robert Vonder Mehden is on the Memorial Tablet of Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery that overlooks Omaha Beach at Normandy, France.