Guthrie County

Lt. John D. "Jack" Stiles

Caption with this published photo:

Pictured here is Lt. Jack Stiles as he appeared the day he received his wings and his Army Commission Nov. 12, 1942, at Brooks Field near San Antonio, Texas. He has been reported “Missing in Action” since July 10.



Jack Stiles ‘Missing in Action’ in Sicily
War Department Telegram Received By Parents of Troop Carrier Pilot

Lt. Jack Stiles, first Bayard man to win his wings during this war and pilot of a huge troop transport plane, has been reported missing in action in the Sicilian campaign by the War Department.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Marc Stiles received a telegram from Washington early Tuesday morning stating that their son had been “missing” since July 10. Apparently Jack was lost during the first great thrust against the Axis on Sicily since July 10 was the day the invasion started and it was announced at that time that 29 troop carrier planes were lost the first night.
He reported to Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, on March 26, 1942. From there he went to Garner Field, Randolph Field and Brooks Field, where he received the coveted silver wings of a pilot last November 12.

After receiving his wings he flew observation planes at Brooks for five weeks and was then sent to Austin, Texas, where he entered the troop carrier service. He took advanced training at Sedalia, Mo., where he was advanced to first pilot and was given a plane of his own. From there he went to Lawson, Ga., and Ft. Benning, Ga.


He left the United States about May 1, and landed in North Africa a few days later after a trip which took him to South America and over the Atlantic. His letters from Africa said that they were carrying on their training over there and he mentioned one time that he had flown more than 10,000 miles since landing in Africa.

Lieutenant Stiles has two brothers serving their county in the Navy. Bob is an aviation cadet stationed at Ottumwa and Don is an apprentice seaman taking his boot training at Farragut, Idaho. 

As pilot of a troop carrier it was his duty to haul the parachute troops over their objective and undoubtedly they were among the first troops to enter Sicily.
Jack was graduated from the Bayard high school in the Class of 1937 and was a classmate of Gerald Grove, who was reported missing in November 1942 in New Guinea. He was an outstanding athlete in high school and ranked near the top of his class scholastically.


At the time Lieutenant Stiles joined the air corps the requirements were exceedingly strict and he had a tough time meeting the education requirements.  However, he was undaunted in his efforts to enlist and after completing his semester of work at Drake he passed a written test and qualified.

Source: The Bayard News (Bayard, Iowa), Thursday, September 2, 1943 (photo included)

Letters Shed Light on Jack Stiles’ Fate
War Department and Roommate Write to Parents of Missing Flyer

Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Stiles have received two letters recently which added greatly to their anxiety over the fate of their son, First Lieutenant, John D. Stiles, who has been reported as missing in action since July 10, last year.

One of the letters came from the office of the quartermaster general, Army services forces, War Department, Washington D.C. and was as follows:

From War Department, January 1, 1944
R. F. D. Bagley, Iowa
My Dear Mr. Stiles:
Word has reached this office that you have been notified by the office of the adjutant General of the Army that your son, First Lieutenant John D. Stiles, is missing in action, a situation that calls forth one’s sincerest sympathy.

A report has been received that among those buried in that area where your son was known to operate, was a man who was wearing a gold ring that was engraved, “Virginia—Johnny 2-12-43”

The purpose of this letter is to inquire if you know whether your son owned such a ring, or, in case you do not know, if you could refer us to someone who might be able to inform us.

It is the desire of this office to relieve the uncertainty of the soldier’s loved ones in such cases as yours, and should we be successful in our task, you will be advised. 
For the Quartermaster General, Sincerely yours, R. P. Harbold, Colonel, Q.M.C. Assistant

Jack’s wife gave him a ring the day they were married and it was inscribed as the one mentioned in the letter.

The Second Letter
The second letter was written by Jack’s roommate, Lt. Gordon Bingham, and it shed some light upon his activities the night of the fateful raid over Sicily. The letter which is self explanatory follows:

October 23, 1943, Sicily
Mr. M. L. Stiles
Bagley, Iowa
Dear Sir:
Before me lies your letter and your wife’s which were sent the first part of September, but I am completely at a loss how to answer them.  Although we are free to divulge the events of those nights, there is so very little that I actually know. However, let me tell you what information I do have.  Perhaps, it contains what you desire.

Night of July 9
On the night of July 9th, Troop Carriers in conjunction with ground and naval units launched the invasion of Sicily.  Our part consisted of carrying the paratroop battalions, which would make the first inroads into enemy territory.  We had worked long and hard for this night and were all anxious to go, but I don’t believe anyone was any more anxious than John.  Our formation was scheduled, and he drew the right wing in the last element of our squadron.  By ten-thirty we were in the air, circling the field to assemble the formation, and shortly there after we set out for the target.  Skirting Pantellaria we made our approach to Sicily from the south and east. Up to that time everything was going well. The formation was good, we were approaching on time, and everything looked in our favor.  But when we made landfall we could see the scattered fire from the enemy guns and knew that trouble was ahead.  However, we kept our course and proceeded to our dropping point in perfect formation—That was the last anyone saw of John’s plane because after we dropped the men we broke formation and came home individually.

John was among several in the group who did not return that night, and for several weeks thereafter we knew nothing. But then the squadron received word that the body of Lt. Ralph, John’s co-pilot, had been found.

STILES (continued on Page 4, column 5)

**Transcriber note:  Unfortunately on page 4, column five, the microfilm of this newspaper issue is so blurred that nothing can be read…except…at the end of this letter the signature reads:

Most Sincerely, Gordon Bingham

Source: The Bayard News (Bayard, Iowa), Thursday, January 6, 1944

A memorial service in honor of First Lieutenant Jack Stiles will be held in the Bayard High School auditorium Sunday at 2:30 p.m.  Lieutenant Stiles was killed in action last July 10, 1943, over Sicily and he is the only Guthrie county pilot to have given his life in combat during this war.

General Charles H. Grahl, director of selective service for Iowa, will deliver the memorial address and Major Wayne Wade of the Drake University air school will present the Stiles family with the air medal which Lieutenant Stiles earned the night he was killed.  The Yale post of the American Legion will be in charge of the ceremony.

Source: The Bayard News (Bayard, Iowa), Thursday, March 30, 1944