Junior Wilson: Tick City, Texas

Clabe, Leora, and Doris began visiting the cemetery every Sunday to put flowers on Junior’s grave. It still didn’t seem possible to any of them.

A letter arrived from Nordheim, Texas:


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wilson,

     My name is O.A. Stirl. I’m a farmer from Nordheim, Texas and I witnessed your son’s plane crash. I felt it my duty to send you the information I have because of the supreme sacrifice your son has paid for his country.

     Your son’s plane was in a three-plane formation. One of them left a smoking trail. A flame appeared and the plane began to circle downward but seemed like it was under control. Between 500 and 1000 feet, a terrific explosion tore the plane apart.

     The nose of the plane was buried nearly five feet in a cornfield and the rest of the plane was in flames. Help arrived in just a few minutes. I did not see a parachute, but I assumed that your son had bailed out in time until I learned of his death in the local paper. 


Here is the clipping:

The Nordheim View: Army Plane Crashes at Tick City

     “Flight officer Claiborne J. Wilson, 20, of Perry, Iowa, was killed Thursday when his P-40 training plane crashed on a combat training flight 10 miles southwest of Yorktown, near Nordheim. The accident occurred at approximately 10:15.

     “The son of Mr. and Mrs. C.D. Wilson of Perry, Iowa, Flight Officer Wilson graduated from Aloe Field in class 45-A.

     “A board of officers have been appointed to determine the cause of the accident.

     “Residents of Tick City, Nordheim residents, and Boy Scouts assisted Army officials from Aloe Field in the search for the body of the young flyer which fell about a hundred yards from the crash.

     “Gus Pargmann found the body in a thicket not far from the crash.” 


Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II by Joy Neal Kidney, with Robin Grunder, is the story of the Wilson brothers who are featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock. Five brothers served. Only two came home. 

Also on Audible as an audiobook.


    • I’m in awe of it, but also of the responsibility of what happens to all of it! I am so thankful that Grandma Leora just put them in the cedar chest she bought after the war.

  1. This story tugs at my heart since three of my relatives were pilots and two others served on European shoreline during the Korean and WWII conflicts. What a keepsake to be handed down from one generation to the next.
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. […] “On 9 August 1945, F/O Claiborne J. Wilson was pilot of TP-40N-5CU aircraft AFF 42-105364, when the aircraft crashed and burned thirty (30) miles northwest of Aloe Army Air Field, Victoria, Texas. F/O Wilson was a member of a four (4) ship formation, which took off from Fannin Auxiliary Field individually and assembled over the field at 3,000 feet. F/O Wilson was flying number four (4) position. [words blacked out] F/O Wilson was rather slow in joining the formation, but {word blackened] he reported no difficulty whatsoever over the radio. The formation climbed to 10,000 feet and made a series of ninety (90) and 180 degree turns. As the formation completed one (1) 180 degree turn, the officer flying number three (3) position noticed that F/O Wilson was not on his wing. At about the same time the instructor noticed his absence also. The instructor immediately called number three (3) man and asked him where F/O Wilson was. The officer in number three (3) position then looked around and states that he saw a P-40 aircraft off to his left and approximately 4,000 feet below the formation in what seemed to be a normal glide. This aircraft was the one piloted by F/O Wilson, who had said nothing over the radio that might indicate that he had engine trouble. The officer flying number three (3) position further states that there was no smoke coming from the aircraft, nor was there fire visible. The instructor leading the formation immediately began calling F/O Wilson, but received no reply. The instructor then dismissed the formation and went down to look for the aircraft piloted by F/O Wilson. At the time of this occurrence, the formation was flying above scattered clouds, and the aircraft piloted by F/O Wilson had disappeared below the clouds. The instructor then went below the clouds and circled and finally located Wilson’s aircraft, which had crashed and was burning approximately seven (7) miles south of Nordheim, Texas. […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.