Plymouth County

Donald J. Harnack
Born 13 Dec 1921
Died 10 Mar 1943


Was Training At Arizona Airfield Time Of Accident

Aviation Cadet Donald J. Harnack, 22 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Harnack of Remsen, was killed in a collision of two planes at an army airfield near Phoenix, Arizona, Wednesday.

The news report from Thunderbird Field says Second Lieutenant D. B. Durmbaugh, believed to be from a California field, parachuted to the ground and was treated at a hospital for serious injuries.

Donald J. Harnack was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Harnack, well known Remsen farmers, and is survived by his parents and one sister, Lois.

Donald enlisted in the army air forces last summer while a student at Iowa State College and was called for training late last year. He graduated from LeMars high school in 1939 and entered college at Ames the next school year.

He was a member of a widely known Remsen family and has many relatives and numerous friends in that community where he was born and reared.

The body will be shipped to Remsen for burial.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 12, 1943

Burial At Remsen Last Tuesday

Remsen’s largest funeral attendance in years thronged the Christ Lutheran Church Tuesday afternoon when final rites were held for Donald Harnack, 21 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. John Harnack, who lost his life last Wednesday in an airplane collision at Thunderbird Field, Phoenix, Arizona, says the Remsen Bell-Enterprise.

The entire community joined hearts and prayers in a mourning over the loss of a beloved son, killed in the line of duty as a soldier of his country, and at the sad rites were represented every walk of local community life.

Church and burial services were conducted by the pastor, the Rev. A. Noack, who spoke in comforting and praising terms to the community and the stricken family.

Full military honors were accorded, with Pieper Post, American Legion, in charge of this phase of the services and under the direction of Commander Ollie Pick.

The new church edifice was filled to overflowing, with both floors occupied and the services imparted to those in the basement chapel by means of the loud speaker system. In the vast audience were seated sided by side, all members of the local clergy, representatives of the various civic organizations, soldiers, sailors and others of the armed forces including a large number of members of Co. D., LeMars, Iowa State Guard, and LeMars high school students, also pupils and students of the local schools and representatives of nearly all business firms.

A letter from military headquarters at Thunderbird Field gave a brief account of the fatal accident. It expressed sympathy of the cadet attachment and officers and stated that Donald “was well liked, had an excellent military, academic and flying record and his loss is materially felt.” Donald is reported to have been on a routine solo flight when a pursuit plane, flying across country, crashed into his ship. The Remsen boy is though to have been killed instantly while the other pilot parachuted to earth and was severely injured.

The body arrived in Remsen Monday morning, escorted by Aviation Cadet Robert V. Grabinski, one of Donald’s best friends, and who was his associate both at Santa Ana, Cal., where the two had their preflight training, and at Phoenix.

Donald Harnack, one of the community’s outstanding young men was born on the farm south of town December 13, 1921. After leaving the rural school he attended LeMars high school, graduating in 1939. During his high school career he was active in football and a member of the glee club, and was highly popular. Later he spent three years at Iowa State College, taking up mechanical engineering, but cut short his studies to enter the war service. He enlisted in the army air service and was called to the colors November 6, 1942, spending three months at Santa Ana and going to Thunderbird Field early in February. He made his first solo flight there February 25.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 23, 1943