War Department, The Adjutant General’s Office, Washington 25, D.C.
15 January 1946
Dear Mrs. Wilson: [Identical letter sent to Mr. Wilson]
Since your son, Second Lieutenant Dale R. Wilson, Air Corps, was reported missing in action 27 November 1943, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence. However, as in many cases, the conditions of warfare deny us such information
Public Law 490, 77th Congress, as amended, provided for a review and determination of the status of each person who has been missing in action for twelve months. Accordingly, your son’s case was reviewed and he was continued in the status of missing in action as of November 1944. The law further provides that a subsequent review shall be made whenever warranted. Upon such subsequent review the making of a finding of death is authorized.
All available records and reports concerning the absence of your son have been carefully investigated and are deemed to warrant a subsequent review of his case. Information in the hands of the War Department indicates that your son was a crew member of a B-25 (Mitchell) bomber which participated in a “strike” mission to Wewak, New Guinea on 27 November 1943. The plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and was seen to crash in the water one and a half miles off the shore of Cape Boram, New Guinea. After crashing into the water the plane disintegrated and the wreckage remained afloat but a short time before sinking. Observers from other planes flailed to see any survivors emerge from the wreckage.
Since no information has been received which would support a presumption of his continued survival the Ware Department must now terminate your son’s absence by a presumptive finding of death. Accordingly, an official finding of death has been recorded. The finding does not establish an actual or probable date of death; however, as required by law, it includes a presumptive date of death for the purpose of termination of pay and allowances, settlement of accounts and payment of death gratuities. In the case of your son this date has been set as 15 January 1946.
I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation. An appraisal of the sacrifice made by your son in the service of his country compels in us feelings of humility and respect. May Providence grant a measure of relief from the anguish and anxiety you have experienced during these many months.
[Signed: Edward F. Witsell, Major General, Acting The Adjutant General of the Army]
That same day, in Europe, a British report of the location of burials of American deceased was sent from the First Field Headquarters to the Commanding General. Two days later, Danny’s MIA status was changed to KIA.
Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II, available from Amazon in paperback and ebook, also as an audiobook, narrated by Paul Berge.
It’s the story behind the Wilson brothers featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. All five served. Only two came home.