Twenty-year-old Coxswain Joseph Lawrence Reis of the United States Navy was on home leave at 19 Standish Street in May 1945, near the end of World War II. After graduating from Provincetown High School in 1943, he served nearly two years in the Pacific Theater and had emerged unscathed — thank God — from 14 major battles. Reis and his pal, Seaman First Class Bernard Viera, also on leave from a Pacific tour, were heading to a springtime, dinnertime beach picnic with two girlfriends, Corinne Willman and Florence Whitehead. Viera was at the wheel. They stopped in Hyannis for provisions, The Advocate reported, and were taking a short cut through Bearse’s Way to Route 28 when an Army truck, carrying a German prisoner of war, smashed into the side of their car, ripping the seats right out from the vehicle. Viera and Willman were injured. Coxswain Reis was killed. He is regarded as a war casualty and was honored as such in 1950 at this memorial square. The scene of the accident is not far from the present-day Cape Cod Mall and Barnstable Municipal Airport.
¶ Last updated on 19 August 2016. ¶ Image courtesy of the Provincetown History Preservation Project, School Collection, Page 5531. (Long Pointer, 1942-1943, Page 21.)