Dickinson County

Lt. Leon Place


Weekly News From Milford Locality

Dr. and Mrs. F. Place entertained Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Tott and Patty, Dorothy Kracht, Misses Esther and Helen Davison at Sunday dinner honoring their son, Leon, who will leave soon for service in the U. S. Airforce (sic).

Leon Place, son of Dr. and Mrs. F. Place has been accepted into the U. S. Airforce (sic). Leon returned home Wednesday from taking his tests. He expects to be called into service about the 15th of this month.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, February 12, 1942, Page 6

Weekly News From Milford Locality

Leon Place, son of Dr. and Mrs. F. Place, left Saturday for Des Moines where he reported to the Aircorps June 8. Leon was inducted into the Aircorps March 3 and has been awaiting his call. He spent Sunday with his brother, Warren, who is attending Drake University. Dr. and Mrs. F. Place’s elder son Darrell is in an army camp in Georgia.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, June 11, 1942, Page 10

Lt. Leon Place Flies From Texas To See Parents

Dr. and Mrs. Floyd Place of Milford enjoyed their first visit with their son, Lieut. Leon Place, of the Army Air Force, in nearly a year when he flew from Austin, Texas, Saturday to be their guest overnight. The trip was made possible due to a cross country flight that a crew of men were to make, arrangements being completed so that Leon could accompany them to their destination, Spencer, Iowa.

The crew of men started at nine o’clock Saturday morning from Austin in an army transport plane and arrived at Spencer at three o’clock that afternoon.

Leon joined the crew there again Sunday morning at 7 o’clock for the return trip to Texas, after visiting his parents overnight where a happy reunion followed. Warren Place, a brother from Des Moines was notified of his brother’s coming and was loaned a car to make the drive home to see him, being accompanied here by a friend. Other guests that evening in the Place home were his aunts, Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Tott and family, Misses Esther and Helen Davison, and Dr. and Mrs. W. E. Bullock of Lake Park, also friends, Junior Davis and friend of Spencer and Miss Violet Kreutzkampf of Lake Park. Leon also visited with his grandfather, A. R. Davison in Spirit Lake while here.

Lieut. Place started his training in May 1942 at Santa Ana, Calif., and several weeks ago received his wings at Yuma, Arizona. He has been transferred to Austin, Texas, just recently.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, April 08, 1943, Page 1

Popular Milford Son Loses Life In Plane Crash

Lt. Leon Place, son of Dr. and Mrs. Floyd Place of Milford, was killed Monday noon when the army plane he was riding in was struck by lightning and crashed in flames northeast of Mason City.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, April 15, 1943, Page 1

Officials Probe Air Crash
In Which 5 Died

Lightning Caused 2 Motored Plane
To Crash Near Rock Falls

Army officials Tuesday were investigating the crash near here of a two-motored Douglas army plane which took the lives of the five crew members. Eyewitnesses said the huge plan was struck in midair by a bolt of lightning which tore off one wing, set the plane ablaze and sent the huge craft into its death spiral one mile west of Rock Falls Monday afternoon.

First to arrive was Maj. Don C. Johnston, Iowa wing commander of the civil air patrol, who came by automobile with Sgt. Lou Krieger of the Iowa state safety patrol. He was followed by two army captains, one a medical officer, from Des Moines, who were in charge of identification and disposal of the bodies of the five ill-fated members of the plane crew.

Identification was completed Monday evening at the office of Sheriff Tim Phalen and names of the first of kin were established but release of the names of the five men awaited notification of the relatives. The bodies remained at Mason City funeral homes although the army officers were accompanied by ambulances.

Army air force investigators were on their way here from the Sioux City air base to take over investigation of the crash itself.

The plane was based at Baer field, Fort Wayne, Ind., and carried only the five crew members, it was state.

The craft sheared off the electric wires leading to the Clyde Van Blair farm on which the wreckage lay. The Van Blair’s electric clock stopped at 12:37 p. m., establishing the time of the wreck.

Walt Hilbert, a state highway patrolman, found one parachute, and a boy, Jack Krueger, found another some distance from the wreckage. A blue and yellow rubber raft was founding a cornfield a mile south by two boys, Marvin Borchardt and Ralph Solberg.

Searchers were bringing in parts of the plane and its equipment throughout the afternoon and turning them over to Sheriff Tim Phalen and other officers on the scene.

The Mason City state guard unit took over the task of guarding the wreckage Monday afternoon until army officers could dispose of it.

Names of 5 in Crash Near Rock Falls Announced

SIOUX CITY, (AP) – The names of five army men killed Monday when their two-engine Douglas plane crashed near Mason City, after being struck by lightning, were revealed Tuesday by the public relations officer at the Sioux City air base.

They were:

Second Lieut. Leon A. Place, Milford, Iowa; Second Lt. Robert G. Randtke, Rochester, N. Y.; Second Lt. Suren Melkenian, Watertown, Mass.; Staff Sergeant John E. Quinn, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.; and, Sergeant Alfred W. Quinlan, Ttouganoxie, Kans.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Tuesday, August 03, 1943, Page 1

Place, Victim of Air Crash,
One of 3 in Family in Service

MILFORD, (AP) – Second Lt. Leon A. Place, one of five army men who met death in a plane crash near Mason City, Monday, was one of three sons of Dr. and Mrs. Floyd Place of Milford who are in the service. He recently was home on leave.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Thursday, August 05, 1943, Page 2


Lieut. Leon A. Place son of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Place of Milford was killed when the two-engine Douglas bomber was struck by lightning near Mason City at 12:37 Monday. Lieut. Place recently visited his parents a few weeks ago. Besides the parents he is survived by four brothers and a sister. The Henry Peterson family are cousins of Dr. Place.

Source: The Terril Record, Terril, Iowa, Thursday, August 05, 1943, Page 1

Lt. Leon Place of Milford
Killed In Plane Crash


The body of Lt. Place was to arrive in Milford this afternoon. No date has been set for the military funeral for the youth as the family is awaiting word from their son, Warrant Officer Darrell Place of Camp Howse, Texas. Darrell was out on field duty and had not yet been contacted, although the Red Cross was attempting to locate him as soon as possible. If the youth is able to get to Milford by Sunday it is hoped the service can be held there on that day.

Another war dept. message coming to the Milford community Tuesday brought a pall of sadness to the entire county Tuesday, when it revealed that Lt. Leon Place, second son of Dr. and Mrs. Floyd Place of Milford was on the army plane which was struck by lightning near Mason City shortly after noon Monday. Five army men lost their lives when the Army 2-engine Douglas plane crashed in flames.

The young flyer, who would have celebrated his 23rd birthday, August 12, was the grandson of A. R. Davison of Spirit Lake, and a nephew of Mrs. A. G. Tott, Misses Esther and Helen Davison of Spirit Lake, and Mrs. W. E. Bullock of Lake Park. An uncle, Paul Davison, lives at Ottumwa, Iowa.

The youth, who is one of the three sons of Dr. and Mrs. Place in the armed services, was a graduate of the Milford high school where he was prominent in high school athletics and a leader in his class. He started his training in the army air corps in June 1942, receiving his early training at Santa Ana and Merced, Calif. He had received his wings and a commission as second lieutenant in the air corps, March 10, 1943 at the Yuma, Arizona advanced flying school. He was recently stationed at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Ind., from where the plane had taken off prior to the accident. A letter from Lt. Place was received by his parents Tuesday after they received word of his tragic death. In the letter he stated that he was leaving on the first lap of his overseas trip. He wrote that he had had pictures taken but would not be there to see the proofs and that they were to select from the proofs the ones they wished to have finished for themselves. He also asked them to celebrate his birthday August 12 in some manner. The youth was home several weeks ago for a short furlough with his parents.

Surviving in addition to his parents and the above named relatives are four brothers and a sister, Warrant Officer Darrell Place of Camp Howze, Texas; Warren Place, who is in indoctrination school of the U. S. Navy at St. Ambrose college, Dubuque, who arrived home Wednesday morning; John Place, who is awaiting his call to service; Kenneth at home; and Mrs. Irwin Lowman of Milford.

The report of the accident as given by the Associated Press was as follows:

“Lightning Monday struck an army 2-engine Douglas plane, ripped off one wing and sent at least five men to a fiery death.

“With the aid of a garden rake, four bodies were pulled from the plane’s burned wreckage, and a fifth was found 100 yards away.

“Lieut. Steward H. Jones, public relations officer at the Sioux City air base, said it had been determined that the plane was from Baer Field, Fort  Wayne, Ind.

“The crash occurred along the Plymouth-Rock Falls road about seven miles northeast of Mason City and one mile west of Rock Falls.

“W. S. Wise, a farmer living near the scene, said he was watching the plane from his yard when lightning struck it. ‘I saw the wing come off and start floating around,’ he said. ‘The plane was flying fairly high and began spiraling to the ground with the wing falling slowly after it.’

“Another witness to the tragedy entered his car and started to the scene, but 100 yards from the wrecked plane found the body of one man. The man was badly burned, but his pulse still beat the witness said. Later he died.

“Time of the crash was set at 12:37 p. m. The electric clock in the farm home of Clyde VanBlair stopped at that hour when the plane struck and broke the power line along the road in front of the VanBlair place.”

The bodies were taken to a Mason City undertaking parlor and word from that place was to the effect that Place’s body was not burned, but was terribly crushed. The body of Place was found beneath the controls, he having been piloting the plane at the time it was struck by lightning.                    

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, April 05, 1943, Page 1


Military Rites to Be Held
at Milford for Lieutenant Place

MILFORD, Iowa, (AP) – Lt. Leon A. Place, killed in an army plane crash near Mason City, will be buried with full military rites in the Okoboji cemetery at Arnolds Park Sunday. After funeral services the American Legion posts of Milford and Arnolds Park will conduct the military rites.

~ ~ ~ ~

Globe-Gazette Diary

An airplane crash that took the lives of five crewmen occurred near Rock Falls Monday when a twin-engine Douglas bomber exploded and burned. It was the second such accident to happen in Iowa within a week, a similar crash occurring near Boone. The victims included one Iowan, Second Lt. Leon Place of Milford.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Saturday, August 07, 1943, Pages 1 & 4

Many Relatives And Friends Attended Place Funeral

The many relatives and friends in attendance at the funeral services for Lt. Leon Place at Milford Sunday, was a fitting tribute to the popular youth, who lost his life last Monday in the crash of an army plane near Mason City. The floral offerings completely banked the front of the church. One of the beautiful pieces was a large V given by the business men of Milford and another was a propeller of flowers sent by the 61st Squadron of Maxon Field, North Carolina with whom Leon had trained. A gift of money in his honor was sent by a former school mate and friend, Sgt. Milford Severtsen of Milford, now in training in Camp Shelby, Miss.

H. E. Narey gave the eulogy for the service telling of the exemplary life the youth had lived. He appealed to the people by use of an appropriate story and his own well chosen words, to keep faith with Leon and other boys who are sacrificing their lives, so that our world can be free of strife and battle. His talk was comforting to the family and friends as well as being a tribute to Leon and the youths of today who are fighting in our behalf. Rev. J. O. Smith, pastor of the Methodist church where the service was held, also spoke and the memorial prayer was given by the chaplain of the American Legion.

The Legion color guard and firing squad, assisted by the Arnolds Park Legion, were in charge of the burial service at the Okoboji cemetery at Arnolds Park where interment was made.

Music for the service was furnished by Misses Shirley Speer and Mary Bess Shelledy, Harold Sietsema and Ralph Meyerdirk.

The body of the flyer arrived in Milford Friday from Des Moines, where it had been placed in a sealed casket for shipment to Milford. Accompanying the remains here as an escort was J. E. Lauderdale of Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Ind., who remained in Milford with the Place family until after the Sunday service.

Source: The Spirit Lake Beacon, Spirit Lake, Iowa, Thursday, August 12, 1943, Page 6

Weekly News From Milford Locality

Sunday afternoon visitors at the Dr. F. Place home were two cousins, Henry Kassel and two sons, Warren and Raymond, of Mason City. They brought a bush knife that had belonged to the Place’s son, the late Lt. Leon Place, who was killed in the plane crash near Mason City several months ago. The knife had been found after the crash and turned over to authorities who in turn sent it to Leon’s parents here.

Source: The Milford Mail, Milford, Iowa, Thursday, May 18, 1944, Page 1