Junior Wilson’s P-40 Warhawk Explodes

Perry Acreage

August 1945

August 6 brought the shocking news that, after weeks of firebombing Japanese cities, the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. 

The world news also started to hold some hope, bringing an expectant feeling in the Wilson home. On August 8, Russia entered the war against Japan. Americans believed the war would be over soon. Clabe and Leora held on to hope that they would receive word from Danny and Dale.

The next day, August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, this time on the city of Nagasaki. 

The Wilsons’ mail had already been delivered, but later that day their mailman, Oscar Daniels, returned and knocked on the door. 

Movies always depicted this kind of moment with two men in uniform coming to the door to deliver a telegram with the news. In rural Iowa, this was delivered by your own mailman. Clabe and Leora expected news about their sons Dale and Danny, who were both Missing in Action. Doris went to the door while her parents retreated to their bedroom in tears.

She opened the envelope as the words in front of her began to swim.

Aloe (2)

The telegram didn’t say Danny. It said “Junior.”

But Junior was safe in Texas. It couldn’t be Junior.

In tears, Doris reluctantly showed the unbelievable news to her folks. They wept together. After several minutes, the compassionate Mr. Daniels was still there. He knocked on the door. “Is there anything I can do for you folks?” 

How hard that must have been for him, but those words of kindness were remembered by the family for decades.

The Wilsons were still on a waiting list for a phone, so Doris (who didn’t yet have a drivers license) drove her dad’s Plymouth into Perry to make phone calls and send telegrams about the unbelievable news.

Leora’s diary.

There’s a display about the postman Oscar Daniels at the Forest Park Museum just south of Perry (and very near the acreage where the Wilsons lived at the time).

The poster about the Wilson family is on the right, next to Oscar Daniels’ early mail buggy. A poster about him is on the left. Forest Park Museum, Perry, Iowa

Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II.


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