William Wentworth Vroom 1917 – 1942

William Vroom was born 3 December, 1917, in Melrose, MA, the only child of Frederick Keith Vroom of Nova Scotia, and Lillian Wentworth of Massachusetts. 

The 1920 census lists the family living at 98 Packard Avenue in Sumerville, MA.  Fred was the manager of a print shop.  They lived adjacent to Tufts University, and this house is now part of the campus, called Hall House, home of Bayit House, which provides a setting for students who wish to live in a Jewish communal atmosphere. 

The family moved to Worcester, MA, and in 1930 lived at 21 Franconia, a 4 bedroom house built in 1910.  Fred continued to work in the printing business.  The family lived in Exeter, NH for a while, and William attended Philips Exeter Academy, graduating in 1936.  He then attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, graduating in 1940.  He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi, a fraternity founded as a literary society. 

The 1940 census lists William living with his parents at 21 Franconia, in Worcester.   His father ran a printing business.  William did not have an occupation listed but the city directory listed him as a student.  On 25 November 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet.  His civil occupation was listed as semi-skilled painters, construction, and maintenance.  He was described as 5-10, 170 pounds.  In 1942, he was listed in the Worcester directory with his parents at 53 Elm, as a member of the US Air Corps.  He received his primary training at Albany, Georgia, and was commissioned in July 1941, at Maxwell field, Montgomery, Alabama.  He was assigned to B26’s at Langley field, Va., and March field at Riverside, Calif.  

In February of 1942, William married Susanne Cooke of Worcester, MA, at Yuma, AZ, and shortly afterwards left for service in the southwest Pacific.  Pilot of a B26 bomber serving with the 19th bomber squadron, 22nd bombardment group, Lieutenant Vroom was killed in a crash Aug 21, 1942, in Australia.   A note in what appeared to be a Philips Exeter Academy alumni magazine said:  “On a sad note, Bill Vroom was one of the first casualties of World War II, on a Pacific island. It was particularly tragic because he was an only child and left behind his mother, father and wife. Life magazine interviewed his widow for an article published in the fall of 1942.” 

In 1949, William’s body was returned from the Pacific on an army transport returning war dead for burial in the United States.  William was buried in Exeter and his gravesite is marked with a granite military headstone.

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1 Comment

  1. peter gustafson said,

    September 28, 2014 at 22:51

    I am Peter Gustafson, son of Suzanne Cook, whose first husband is the aforementioned William Wentworth Vroom. I have scrapbooks of Bill and my mother (Smith College 42) during Bill’s time at Dartmouth, plus other information. Anyone interested please contact me by email. Gallopg@yahoo.com.


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