2nd Lt. Dale Ross Wilson

These next few were written for the Stories Behind the Stars website, which plans to remember every WWII fallen. They provided training and a certain format, including footnotes for your research. They even offered to link them to Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for An Iowa Family During World War II, but in order to do that I’d need to join something else.

By then, I was finishing up the manuscript for Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression and was exasperated by trying to jump through all their hoops and gave up. So I’ll post them here.

2nd Lt. Dale Ross Wilson

MIA Over Wewak, New Guinea, DOD

2nd Lt. Dale R. Wilson was born on May 13, 1921, in Stuart, Guthrie County, Iowa. His father, Claiborne Daniel Wilson, and mother, Leora Frances Goff Wilson, were born and raised in Guthrie County, Iowa. His father was a farmer and raiser of championship Duroc Jersey hogs. Dale had two older brothers, who served in the US Navy during the Great Depression and WWII, and two younger brothers, who were also lost during the war. He also had two sisters, one of them his twin.

Dale used the bounty money to buy a pair of shoes for his mother, Leora. She’d cut cardboard to cover holes in the soles of hers. He had money left over for his senior class ring and photo.

Dale Wilson grew up during the Great Depression in and around Dexter, Iowa, where he played football, was on a county championship basketball team, and graduated from Dexter High School in 1939. He farmed with his father and brothers, tenant farmers near Minburn, Iowa, when the war broke out. Dale enlisted in the US Army Air Force in May 1942.

Basic Training was at Santa Ana, CA, in mid 1942. Primary Cadet Training was at Hancock Field, Santa Maria, CA. Basic Training was at Gardner Field, CA, at the end of 1942. Advanced at Roswell, NM, graduating in the Class of 43-B. Transition Training was in B-25s at Greenville, SC. 

2nd Lt. Wilson was the copilot of a new B-25 which flew from the West Coast, island-hopping to Australia in August 1943, for Tactical Training with the 5th Air Force. He was assigned to the 823rd Bomb Squadron of the 38th Bomb Group based, at 17-Mile Field, Port Moresby, New Guinea, in October 1943. 

On November 27, 1943, his B-25 was lost on a mission to Wewak, New Guinea, crashing into the sea near Wewak/Boram. Eye witnesses saw the plane crash.

Dale’s parents received information from three people on the West Coast who had heard a shortwave broadcast March 24, 1944, naming Dale Wilson as a POW of the Japanese. It was never confirmed. 

His official Declaration of Death was set for January 15, 1946, which was well after the war was over. Dale Wilson was survived by his parents, two brothers and two sisters. His father would die of a stroke and a broken heart that October. 

Five Wilson brothers served in the war. Only two came home. Dale Wilson is one of the three young pilots who lost their lives during the war. His parents had a cenotaph added to the family burial plot at Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry, Iowa, to remember sons Dale and Daniel. Only God knows where Lt. Dale Wilson’s remains lie today, and those of the five other men on the crew that day. 

All five Wilson brothers are remembered on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. 

He is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery, Philippines.

His family was never awarded his Purple Heart until his niece, Joy Neal Kidney, requested it.

Sources: 

  1. Joy Neal Kidney has copies of Dale Wilson’s 293 (Casualty) File, Missions Reports, Pilot’s Log Book, letters sent home, telegrams sent to his parents, newspaper clippings. 
  2. Pacific Wrecks 
  3. Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for One Iowa Family During World War II
  4. Stories about Dale R. Wilson 
  5. Findagrave  
  6. Manila American Cemeter

14 comments

  1. An excellent tribute for your uncle, Joy. Like you, we try our best to honor those who stood for what was right!

  2. Interesting to read this account and the documentation of it. A sad story that was, sadly, repeated many times over during that war.

  3. Such a compelling story of a brave young man. I wii always wonder if he had been captured.

  4. A very fine tribute to your uncle here. Considering the circumstances, it is hard to imagine that you had to make the request for the Purple Heart. It is a beautiful thing that you share the lives and stories of these brave souls.

    • That’s why I had to write “Leora’s Letters.” The book about their Depression Era stories is getting its cover this month. Those stories also needed preserving. Thank you, Linda.

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