AB; also LLB (1937)
Date of Birth:
Oct. 27, 1913
Date of Death:
June 16, 1943
World War II
Army Air Corps
Rancke entered the University in 1931 from Rockingham High School, where he had been student body president. After graduating from UNC, he earned his law degree in 1937. He practiced law in Rockingham and Mount Gilead before volunteering for the U.S. Army Air Corps in September 1940.
He received his pilot’s wings and his commission on April 25, 1941, and was assigned to the 20th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines. He left aboard the President Pierce for Manila on June 6, 1941.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked U.S. forces in the Philippines. Rancke cabled his parents on Dec. 18 that he was safe and sent them Christmas greetings on Dec. 26. He cabled again that he was safe on March 16, 1942. No further word was received from him.
Bataan fell to the Japanese on April 10, 1942, and Corregidor on May 6. Rancke’s parents were informed by the U.S. War Department in March 1943 that he was a prisoner of war. They were later informed that he had died in captivity on June 16, 1943. The American Battle Monuments Commission lists his date of death as Sept. 19, 1942.
Alumni Secretary J. Maryon “Spike” Saunders ’25 wrote to Rancke’s parents:
“The past eighteen months I am certain have been filled with much anxiety and grief for you and other members of Lieut. Rancke’s family. I just wanted you to know that we here in Chapel Hill share your grief and extend to you our sincere sympathy.”