2nd Lt. Daniel S. Wilson

This was 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 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.

2nd Lt. Daniel Sheridan Wilson 

KIA on a Mission, Schwanberg, Austria

2nd Lt. Daniel S Wilson was born on May 21, 1923, in Stuart, Guthrie County, Iowa. His father, Claiborne Daniel Wilson, and mother, Leora Frances Goff Wilson, were born and raised in Guthrie County. His father was a farmer and raiser of championship Duroc Jersey hogs. Dan had two older brothers who served in the US Navy during the Great Depression and WWII, and two other brothers, who were lost during the war. He also had two sisters.

Dan Wilson grew up during the Great Depression in and around Dexter, Iowa. He graduated from Washington Township High School in 1941, valedictorian of his class. Dan farmed with his father and brothers, tenant farmers near Minburn, Iowa, when the war broke out. He enlisted in the US Army Air Force in early 1943.

Basic Training was at Jefferson Barracks, MO in February 1943. He was sent to College Detachment in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in March and April 1943, then Preflight at Santa Ana, CA from May to August, 1943. Primary Cadet Training was at Ryan Field, Tucson, AZ. Basic Training was at Marana, AZ, at the end of 1943. Advanced at Williams Field, Chandler, AZ, graduating in the Class of 44-C. Transition was at Victorville and Salinas, CA, with Tactical Training in the P-38 at Santa Rosa and Hamilton Field, CA. 

2nd Lt. Wilson was sent via Liberty Ship to Italy, where he was based at the 15th Air Force Fields in the Triolo area, with the 14th Fighter Group, 37th Fighter Group.

On February 19, 1945, his P-38 was lost after an escort mission to Vienna, then strafing in the Graz area. He was lost near Schwanberg, Austria. Eye witnesses said it was hard to spot a silver plane in a snow-covered area. Lt. Daniel S. Wilson was listed as MIA from that date until January of 1946. By then the military had received information from captured German records through a British Graves Registration team, turned over to an American Graves Registration team who followed up in November 1945. His parents were notified in January 1946. His remains were removed from Austria in August 1946 to the temporary Lorraine American Cemetery at St. Avold, France. 

A Purple Heart and an Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster were sent to Dan Wilson’s parents.

Dan Wilson was survived by his parents, two brothers and two sisters. His father died in October 1946 of a stroke and a broken heart. 

Later his widowed mother made the decision for permanent overseas burial. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France. 

The five Wilson brothers served in the war. Only two came home. Dan 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 for their sons, Dale and Daniel .

The brothers are remembered on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. 

Sources: 

  1. Joy Neal Kidney has copies of Lt. Daniel Wilson’s 293 (Casualty) File, Missions Reports, Pilot’s Log Book, letters sent home, telegrams sent to his parents, newspaper clippings. 
  2. Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for One Iowa Family During World War II
  3. ADM Alumni Association Honored Military  
  4. Stories about Dan Wilson
  5. Lorraine American Cemetery  https://api.abmc.gov/decedent-search/wilson%3Ddaniel-2
  6. History: Schwanberg 700 Jahre Markt, page 41

12 comments

  1. Sorry to learn of your troubles getting this worthy story out there. Sometimes publications shoot themselves in the foot by having so many requirements and guidelines because they discourage submission of some really good writing. Glad to see that your getting that story–and others–out despite the problems.

  2. Glad to hear that Dan and is brothers will be remembered. One family who gave so much should never be forgotten!!

  3. It’s so sad that their dad died of a broken heart, on top of it all.
    This site sounds very interesting. I am trying to write the story of my great-uncle who was a WWII hero who survived, but with PTSD (called shell shock). Of course, the archives is ignoring my cousin’s request for her dad’s records.

    • I follow https://footstepsresearchers.com/ from St. Louis. She finds records, even ones where the requesters have been told they were burned in the fire there. She’s got credentials to search anyway. Because of Covid, the National Archives is also backlogged. That said, I had such trouble finding Dale Wilson’s records that I went through a senator’s office and got prompt action.

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