Danny Wilson, from a Minburn, Iowa farm that had no electricity nor running water, enlisted in the Army Air Force in February of 1943. After a month at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he was sent to ISTC, Cedar Falls, Iowa, for College Detachment.
“Iowa State Teacher’s College, Cedar Falls, IA., March 6, 1943
“We left Jefferson Barracks at 6:00 P.M. yesterday and arrived at Cedar Falls at 7:00 A.M. this morning. We marched through about two miles of Cedar Falls before we got to this college. We are the first bunch of men to come to this Iowa State Teachers. This is really a keen place after getting out of J.B. We have taken over a lot of this college and I’m now writing on a desk in an assigned room in Seerley Hall (men’s dormitory). These rooms are steam heated with wash basin; and all kinds of drawers and racks to put clothes, etc., instead of in two barracks bags.
“The purpose for sending us here is to better prepare us for cadet training so that there won’t be so many eliminated.”
In a letter to his sister, Darlene, he added that the march through about two miles of Cedar Falls was “in a heavy snowstorm.”
He added, “It’s 3:30 P.M. and the tall structure (about 50 yds. from my window) which has a clock on each of its four sides and a bunch of bells on top, has been playing a series of tunes for a half hour.”
He’s talking about the ISTC Campanile.
When Dan learned his sister Doris was planning on joining the WAVES, he reported that there were 1500 WAVES also training at the Cedar Falls college. (The women’s branch of the US Naval Reserve was known as the WAVES.)
Doris Wilson instead married Warren Neal, another Iowa farmer who’d joined the “Air Corps” and become a pilot.
Daniel S. Wilson was commissioned and awarded his wings at Williams Field, Chandler, Arizona, in March of 1944. He became the pilot of a P-38 Lightning and was killed in action February 19, 1945, at Schwanberg, Austria. Dan Wilson is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France.
The five Wilson brothers served in WWII. Only two came home. They are remembered on the Dallas County Freedom Rock in Minburn, and in their niece’s book Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II.
Iowa State Teacher’s College is now the University of Northern Iowa. For a few years, it was known as the State College of Iowa. Dan Wilson’s niece, Joy Neal, graduated from SCI in 1966.