James Reimbolt bid farewell to Hoover High School upon his graduation in 1940.
Now the World War II pilot has returned home, symbolically, at least, in the form of a Purple Heart awarded posthumously after he was shot down over Tunisia in 1943.
The medal was one of several personal items recently given to Hoover High School by James Reimbolt’s younger brother, John Reimbolt, a member of the Class of 1942.
“The historic connection people have to this school, and the exceptional people that have come out of Hoover, it just makes me so proud,” said Principal Jennifer Earl. “I want to continue the tradition.”
The items will be included in a school museum currently under development, Earl said.
John Reimbolt contacted school officials earlier this year to see if they would be interested in the Purple Heart, said administrative secretary Stacy Toy. Last week, they received a large box that contained not only the medal, but photographs, newspaper clippings and letters related to James Reimbolt’s military service and death.
The Hoover alum joined the Air Force after completing pilot training at Glendale Community College, according to a newspaper clipping. He received his wings in Oct. 1942 and was assigned as a pilot to a Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter plane. Thirteen months later, James Reimbolt went missing in action while flying between La Marsa, Tunisia and Sicily. He was 22.
His name is inscribed on a wall at the North African American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunisia. His body was never recovered.
The Purple Heart — awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military — and the other personal items create a direct link to an earlier generation of Hoover students, school officials said.
“It kind of gives me the chills. It is history,” Toy said.
The mementos are just some of the memorabilia the school has received in recent months from graduates looking to share their lives with the school.
“I feel like people are wanting to be a part of this,” Earl said. “They are wanting Hoover to share their memories.”