Appanoose County

Lt. Eugene Wilcox Jr.

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Wapello County

 

Eugene Wilcox Is To Receive Wings

Eugene Wilcox, 22, son of Mrs. Ralph McDonough of Moravia, has completed his course of training as an army air corps cadet and was to receive his wings and commission Thursday, Aug. 27. He has been in training at Luke Field, Phoenix, Ariz.

Wilcox entered the air corps in January after completing the 10-week preliminary course sponsored by the Elks club in Centerville. He is a graduate of the Moravia high school and attended Albia junior college for one year.

Source:  The Moravia Union, August 27, 1941, page 1

Lieut Eugene Wilcox, In England, Wins Promotion And Air Medal

Eugene Wilcox, son of Mrs. Ralph McDonough of Moravia, has been promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the United States army air corps and is now pilot and commanding officer of the flying fortress "Raunchee" which has made several successful raids over German territory.

Lieut. Wilcox, who is stationed somewhere in England, has participated in enough raids over the continent to receive the air medal awarded to men completing five or more raids.The medal and citation were presented by General Anderson in a ceremony recently.

An Associated Press dispatch from England printed Sunday in the Des Moines Register quoted Wilcox on his return from a recent raid which inflicted heavy damage on Nazi industry. In pointing out that fighter opposition over the targets had been light Wilcox said: 
  "Several enemy planes circled about us but didn't show any fight."  

Lieut. Wilcox enlisted in the army as an air corps cadet Jan. 23, 1942, and received his wings and a commission as second lieutenant Aug. 27, 1942. He has been overseas since the middle of April, 1943. 

Source: The Moravia Union, Thursday, July 15, 1943

Lieut Eugene Wilcox Is Shot Down, Survives Two Days, Night On Water

  First Lieut. Eugene Wilcox, son of Mrs. Ralph McDonough of Moravia, was missing in action for two days and one night and it apparently was only because the machinery for notifying next of kin did not function promptly that she did not receive word of this from the war department.

  As it was, Mrs. McDonough received a letter from her son this week, written in a rest home in England, telling of his close call after being shot down during a raid over the German coast. Five of Wilcox's crew members were killed in the fight. Wilcox is pilot of a flying fortress bomber.

Lieut Wilcox's account of the fight follows;
  "We went on a raid to Germany. When we reached the German coast we were met by a strong fighter force. Well, someone shot up my airplane and I went down in flames.

"Through the grace of God the airplane didn't blow up and I was able to make a water landing. When the fire started we were at 20,000 feet so you figure out just how much time it took us to get down. Until my dying days I'll never know why it didn't explode.

"After the water landing, in which five of my crew was killed, we were on the water for two days and a night before the English navy picked us up."

Wilcox said in his letter that he is through with combat flying, which may mean that he has completed the maximum limit of combat missions before being grounded.

Source: The Moravia Union - Thursday August 19, 1943 - Page 1

Eugene Wilcox Is 'Missing In Action'

Casualty Is First Reported Locally Since War Began

Moravia first felt the full impact of the war when Mrs. Ralph McDonough received a telegram Wednesdav night, Oct. 6, from the adjutant general informing her that her son, First Lieut. Eugene Wilcox of the United States army air forces, is missing in action.

Wilcox was attached to a heavy bomber squadron based somewhere in England.

The telegram read: "I regret to inform you that the commanding general European ARA reports your son, First Lieut. Eugene Wilcox, Jr., missing in action since Sept. 23. If further details or other information of his status are received you will be promptly notified."

Unofficial word that Wilcox was missing came the following morning from Corp. William Callen, also stationed in England, in a letter to his mother, Mrs. Fred Callen, of Moravia.

Corp. Callen wrote that he had gone to visit Wilcox but had found him to be missing. Callen had visited Wilcox's base Sept. 29, five days after he was reported missing. Callen gave no details about the incident.

Lieut. Wilcox had been shot down during a raid over the German coast in early August and landed his flying fortress in the English Channel. He and the surviving members of his crew spent two days and a night on the water before they were rescued.

Mrs. McDonough had received four letters from her son since he was shot down in August. The last, dated Sept. 4, reported that he had recovered from the ill effects of the first crash and was returning to combat duty. At that time he had only 10 more raids to go before completing the maximum number allowed.

Lieut. Wilcox, 23 years old, enlisted in the army as an air corps cadet Jan. 23, 1942, and received his wings and a commission as second lieutenant Aug. 27, 1942. He was sent overseas in April, 1943.

In July Wilcox had participated in enough missions over the continent to qualify for the air medal, and was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant. Upon achieving this rank Wilcox was made pilot and commanding officer of a flying fortress.
Mrs. McDonough has contacted the American Red Cross for information about her son in the event he was forced down over enemy territory and is a prisoner of war.

Information about men missing in action sometimes is delayed several months.

Source: The Moravia Union - Thursday, October 14, 1943 - Page 1

Bombardier Back From England Brings-
    Word About Wilcox

      Mrs. Ralph McDonough of Moravia received first unofficial word from her missing son, First Lieut. Eugene Wilcox, when First Lieut. R. M. Astrologo of Bedford, N. Y., arrived here Tuesday night on his way to report for duty in Tennessee.

      Lieut. Astrologo was bombardier in the Flying Fortress crew with which Wilcox trained in Idaho before going overseas. He had flown the first six or eight combat missions over German territory with Wilcox before the local flyer was promoted to first pilot and was assigned a new crew.

      The bombardier said he had talked with men who flew on the some mission in which Wilcox was reported missing, and they said they had seen the crew of Wilcox's ship parachute to safety in France. They presume. Lieut. Wilcox also had jumped from the ship.

      Lieut. Astrologo, who was driving from New York to Tennessee with his wife, has completed the 25 combat missions and has been sent back to the United States for other duty. He has been wounded in action and wears the purple heart award and the distinguished flying cross with oak leaf clusters.

      A story by Wilcox telling of one of his experiences while on a combat mission over Germany is printed elsewhere in this issue of the Moravia Union.

      Lieut. Astrologo arrived in Moravia exactly two months after Wilcox was reported missing in action.

Lieut. Wilcox Writes Of Raid On Germany
    Moravia Flyer Is Missing In Action

      First Lieut. Eugene Wilcox, son of Mrs, Ralph McDonough of Moravia, has been missing in action since Sept. 24. But he had gone through more than one harrowing experience as a Flying Fortress pilot in raids over German territory before the last raid - from which he has not returned.

      One of the experiences was written in narrative form by Lieut. Wilcox for "True" magazine, and was printed in the December issue. Horace B. Brown, editor of "True," has given the Moravia Union permission to reprint the story in full.

      Wilcox' story, "Five Came Back," is the account of what happened to his Flying Fortress, Alcohol Annie, in a raid over Germany, and how only five of the 10-man crew returned to fight again. The story is printed below.

      Trouble is my middle name, but you get used to trouble if you get enough of it. There's plenty of it on our unfriendly visits to Germany - visits with calling cards that explode on receipt.

      During one stretch when the Luftwaffe was particularly potent, I made eight raids in eight different planes. The reason was that each Flying Fortress I returned in was so badly shot to pieces that it couldn't go out again until extensive repairs were made. But all those things were childs play compared to what happened when I took Alcohol Annie on the mission to Oschersleben.    

      There's no milk run to any of the Ruhr cities, no place in the world where the flak is so thick or the fighters so bothersome. The British nicknamed the Ruhr "Happy Valley," which is like calling Dante's Inferno "Playland."

      When I lifted the Fort off the runway and took her out over the North Sea, the water looked lovely that morning. Pin-point whitecaps dressed the sea like sequins on a dancing gown. Of course, at that moment, I never dreamed I'd spend more than thirty-six hours on her choppy surface in a dinghy and a small rescue craft, fighting to reach England again.

      Alcohol Annie was Number 3 in the second element of the highest squadron that trip. It was only the second time I'd piloted Annie. I borrowed the old girl for this mission because, as usual, my plane was getting her wounds patched. Why Annie was given her odd name, I don't know, but the inspiration of it was painted on her sides - a girl of obviously doubtful reputation sitting at a table holding a bottle.

      Not exactly a pretty picture, but I suppose there was a deep sentimental attachment between Alcohol Annie and the pilot who christened her, for there is always a bond between a pilot and his ship. A lot of queer names that indicate a streak of humor or a sardonic twist of thinking. Among them are, "Ain't It Gruesome," "Rigor Mortis, "Lonesome Polecat," "Wabbit Twack," "We Ain't Sacred," "Rationed Passion," "Kiplings Error," and "Impatient Virgin. You need a sense of humor when the ack-ack guns lay a red carpet on the sky, and the Focke Wulfs and Messerschmitts come buzzing in.

      The sun was beginning to lift itself into a thinly clouded sky as we climbed to 20,000 feet and converged, on schedule, with two other groups. They appeared, as they always do, suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere. After all the missions I've been on, I never completely get over, my surprise when the other bombers show up. "Damn!" we often think. "Are we going on this party alone" And then, out of the ever present haze, they come, swinging beside us in battle formation.

      We roared toward Germany.

      Our good-weather luck failed and we ran into heavy cloud layers, so thick that our formation was forced to scatter. The clouds were stacked and Alcohol Annie went above them, below them, and generally skipped all through them.

      Just as we hit the clouds a great swarm of Jerries—Focke Wulf 190s and Messerschmitt 109s—swung down on us. Don't let anybody sell you short on German fighters. Anybody who has tangled with them knows what they have on the ball. Those birds who attacked us were smart, plenty smart, They'd lie in the clouds, dart out and give us a burst, then duck back into cover before we could draw a bead on them.

      These Jerries were hitting us in batches of twelve to fifteen. Two Forts behind us were being shot up unmercifully. Our big bombers can take an awful lot of thumping, but there's a limit to everything. Both were on fire, and finally the Germans shot the wings off one.

      The pilot tried desperately to keep it up, but he could not make it. The Fort staggered, then dropped squarely on top of the one below it. Both exploded with a terrific roar and a burst of flame.

      You feel a touch of ice around your heart—sorrow for the boys who are wiped out and hate for the men who did it-but there isn't time for emotions. Every gun in the ship is blazing. The racket is indescribable. No time for fear. No time for anything but keeping straight for the target and shooting down as many of the enemy, as possible.

      The fighters kept rolling in. Most of them, it seemed to me, were sticking right on Alcohol Annie s tail. It was as systematic a job of butchery as I ever hope to see; like a prizefighter precisely and continuously jabbing an opponent, cutting him to ribbons before applying the knockout.

      Jerry angles into you, usually, from above or below; his guns firing so fast the flashes make it seem that his wings are aflame. As he gets nearer, he rolls over, still shooting, then sweeps away. He does that because his underside is heavily armored and since he must expose some part of his ship in order to get a crack at you, he chooses to show his belly.

      Those rolling devils shot out my Number three engine first. We can get along very well on three, so we didn t drop out of formation. Then they got Number four, and damaged Number one so badly it wasn't much good unless we pulled full R.P.M. — 2,500— with danger of overheating the engine. We really had trouble on our hands then, for we were like a man with one leg broken and the other ankle sprained. The rest of the Forts had a target to reach, and if we couldn't go along with them we'd have to take care of ourselves as best we could.

      The Focke Wulfs and Messerschmitts stalked us like buzzards over a wounded animal. About thirty swarmed around, banging away with cannons and machine guns while we poured our share of lead back at them.

      Two shells struck the nose of Alcohol Annie. One fired from below, came through the cockpit between the co-pilot and me. It was a close call for Phil Stratton, my co-pilot from Kansas City. The one thing we each wanted to do was grab a gun and do a little shooting on our own account. We were in a red rage, but the worst part of being a pilot is that you haven't even a pop gun to use on the Jerries. All we can do is keep the plane flying level if she's hit, and go into evasive action when the flack gets thick.

      Another shell crashed through the navigator's compartment, knocking over his table and spending itself above him. My navigator, was Lt. Lazon C. Jorgenson, a 25 year old Texan who lives at Clifton, near Waco. Big Jorgenson had his steel helmet on that day, luckily for him, because when the fracus was over he discovered he'd lost a lot of paint off it. Jorgenson is not for much for words and his only comment was a drawled: "You know, I might have gotten my head scratchedif I hadn't had that helmet settin' on my noggin.'

      My top turret gunner, Tech Sgt. Clyde B. Mercer, Jr., of Malvern, Pa., had his parachute lying behind the co-pilot. The thing was riddled with bullets and all of a sudden Mercer started yelling, "Look here," and pointing excitedly to his 'chute. Let me tell you, a fellow feels awfully lost and helpless up there without a bit of silk.     

      Mercer only grinned when I yelled back, "Sorry," and went straight to his guns. As if to revenge himself for the loss of his 'chute, he knocked down two Jerries. Mercer is a little, skinny guy but he was a big man that day and plenty tough with his gun. He drew a bead on those Jerries and held it until they came in so close he couldn't miss. Tracer bullets threw long strips of ribbon across the sky but they weren't for Christmas packages.

      Big Jorgenson got in his licks, too. A Jerry swept down on the port side just outside my window, and Jorgenson let him have it. We could see his bullets tear the German to pieces and he went down smoking like one of Churchill's cigars.

    But we had too many against us; we were in a hell of a shape by this time. Besides the handicap of two helpless engines, our wings were full of holes, the tail was hit badly and part of the control cables were shot away. It all happened in about a minute or less.

      We couldn't fight off all the cut-throats but there might be a chance to hide. We ducked into a cloud and lost everybody for a minute, but soon had t oget out because our wings started icing. When we came down, we were all alone except for one batch of Forts far below. We thought we'd tack onto them. They turned off, however, and we hadn't speed enough to catch them. Under the conditions, I decided there was nothing left for us but to try to get home.

      We started to go down near the water. It's the best place to be when you are crippled, because the fighters can't maneuver around you very well. At 12,000 feet I took off my oxygen mask, and lit a cigarette, pretending to feel nonchalant. But I didn't feel that way at all. Even though we had shaken off the FW's and Me's, there was plenty of problems ahead. And with Alcohol Annie in the shape she was, the North Sea didn't look as pretty as it did when we were on our way to Germany.

      We spotted another ship with a prop feathered, and figured two lame ducks were better than one. I managed to overtake it and we started to fly formation, when one of the gunners called me on the interphone and reported our right wing afire. I went back and took a look.

      The fire apparently had been burning a long while. But we hadn't noticed it because it was under the wing and on the inside, smoke was billowing back fiercely now and big chunks were falling off the wing's bottom. You may be ble to bring a Flying Fortress home on one engine, but you can't do it with one wing.

      I went back to the cockpit and told everybody I was going to ride Annie down; that either I was going to land in the water or I'd cook in the plane. Well, those wonderful birds in my crew replied, "If you've got guts enough, so have we."

      I told them to get into the radio room, that if they wanted to bail out, it was all right with me. Of course bailing out into the North Sea was nothing to look forward to, but I gave them the choice, anyway. They elected to stay, every man of them.

      We had to hurry, because fire was consuming the wing and if it went completely before we ditched, we'd never know what hit us.

      Stratton and I pushed the wheel down hard, and the Fort went into a dive at 300 miles an hour. We wondered if the big baby would hold together.  It took both of us and all our strength to hold full left aileron and full left rudder, which kept the right wing up. It was a wide open question whether we'd reach the water before Annie blew up.

      The North Sea was rushing up to meet us but fire and wounds were consuming poor Annie. I glanced a Stratton - a lanky, handsome, black haired fellow who'd gotten through tight squeezes with me before. His face was pale and his eyes wide with excitement. Yet he kept his head and was doing a magnificent job. I couldn't help reflect as I looked at him: "Well, take a good look, Willie Wilcox, 'cause it's the last time you'll see him."

      Then I began thinking, "I've got to push Mr. Jordan away. Go back, Mr. Jordan, please go back. I'm not ready." Mr. Jordan is the man who takes fliers to heaven, or wherever it is that fliers go.

      Most men think along the same lines when death seems near, I guess. Little Mercer, the gunner, as he told me later, kept thinking "I'm going to die. I'm going to die. I can't; but I'm going to, anyway. It's not real, not possible, but there it is!"

      But you don't just sit there, transfixed and waiting for. the end; you fight it off. You do what is needed to be done automatically. Your subconscioius takes care of that, and your hands are busy.

      First of all, we had jettisoned our bombs as Annie rushed toward the water. The altimeter had gone mad - we were dropping about 4,000 feet a minute. I looked at the instruments once and saw, or thought I saw, that we were at 1,000 feet.

      Actually, we were only 100 feet from the water. So I was pushing as hard as I could on the wheel and Phil was pulling. He yelled "No Willie! No! For Gods sake, were almost there!'

      I caught on just in time to level her off about twenty feet above the sea. By this time the plane was almost a complete wreck - quivering like an aspen, smoking and flaming. Thick smoke was coming up into the cockpit and the windows were steaming over.

      When we hit the water, we were doing about 100 miles an hour. I felt the tail drag smoothly. Then the ball turrett started to drag, and finally there was a hellish jar, as the wings hit.

      Alcohol Annie split in two from the force of the crash. Her belly was ripped as if someone had twisted her as you would twist a bread roll. Stratton and I ducked and covered our faces with our hands as Annie hit the sea, and as soon as the plane began settling we scrambled out through the windows right by our sides. They're pretty small but, believe me, when water is up to your waist and keeps rushing in, you don't need a big door and a uniformed attendant to swing it open for you.

      Jorgenson and the bombardier "Big Knock" Edward Johnson of Brooklyn, were in the bomb bay when we struck. Johnson grabbed something - I don't know what it was - and managed to keep from falling and injuring himself.

      Jorgenson's right foot stuck in a shell hole on the bomb bay catwalk, which probably saved him. Instead of being thrown forward against the bulkhead, he was able to seize the bomb racks and hang on. Somehow, though, his clothes caught on the radio  operator's gun. Big Knock seized him by the seat of his pants and almost threw him out of the escape hatch and into the water. Knocky followed him out.

      Mercer had already climbed clear of the ship, but he and I had to get back in order to release the dinghy, which by this time was under water inside the Fortress. The sea was up to our necks before we could get it out. I started swimming away with it, and frankly, I was scared as hell. All this happened in just a few seconds and our lives hung on the speed of our actions.

      Only five of us got out - Stratton, Jorgenson, Big Knock, Mercer and myself. The last we saw of the two waist gunners - Thomas Holton, of Philadelphia, and Horace N. Holcome, of Big Spring, Tex. - they were fighting fires in their plane area. Apparently they stuck to their posts, battling a blaze that threatened to run through the entire plane, instead of trying to parachute to safety, and were knocked out when Annie hit the water.

      I don't want to sound maudlin. In war losses are bound to occur. We all know that in an impersonal sort of way. But it's only when the loses become personal - when freinds of ours die - that we really understand what sacrifices they made.

      Three other men were missing-Jack Lewis, of Danville, Va., our 20-year-old ball gunner: the radioman Daniel O'Neill, of Wheeling, W. Va., and tail gunner Ross Calvert, of Seattle.

      Half of our crew of ten had been wiped out by the Jerries. But we'll pay them back with interest.

      We scrambled into the dinghy and watched Alcohol Annie disappear silently into the sea. She was a good old girl, and we hated to see her go, but Fortresses are expendable just as are the men who fly them. We hit the water about 9:45 that morning and a little while later another Fortress, bless her, saw us and circled overhead.

      She must have radioed our position to England. About 4 p. m an aircraft from the R.A.F.'s Air-Sea Rescue Service showed up. We could hear them long before we could see them, and we looked at each other breathlessly as the drone first reached our ears. Then we scanned the skies until finally we made them out, far behind. They had overshot the mark and were circling. We hurriedly fired several flares but they didn't see us. Then our hearts stuck in our throats—they were giving up the search, apparently, for we saw them head for England. Each of us must have said a silent prayer as we fired our last remaining flare. It was our only chance, we thought.

      All our hopes went up with that flare. We never took our eyes off it until it burned itself out in the sky.

      Thank God they saw it! In a few minutes we were waving and yelling at them as they circled and buzzed over our little dinghy. A crew member in one of them waved a handkerchief and then they headed back for England. This time we were glad to see them go go, for it meant that someone would be coming bock for us.

      It isn't a bit comfortable in a dinghy, and it isn't very safe if the seas become rough. We rolled and pitched a lot, but never seemed to be in any particular danger. At least, if I had not been a landlubber, it wouldn't have. To a man from the farm country that expanse of water was pretty terifying.

     About 6 o'clock two Lockheed-Hudsons flew over and dropped a 15-foot lifeboat attached to three parachutes. In it were a motor, warm clothing, rations, sails, water, gasoline and compass. A sportsman's yacht couldn't have looked better to us at that time.

      Well, we figured that if Columbus could sail the Atlantic and discover America, we could sail the North Sea and find England. That came from ignorance. There's a lot of difference between piloting an airplane at several hundred miles an hour, and a dinghy at a few knots. Being fliers and not sailors, we neglected to run up the sails. We cranked the motor and set out for Merrie England. One of the Lockheed-Hudsons had wigwagged his wings and pointed the way.

      We putt-putted along all night, talking over our narrow escape, and praying for rescue, because we knew our gasoline couldn't last the voyage. We thought a lot about the five who weren't with us. Swell kids, fine airmen. Well, we'd go back another day and when we did we'd notch a few extra Jerry fighters to pay for them. It wouldn't be enough, of course. Nothing would be enough as far as we were concerned.

      That was quite a night, like a carnival back home. We saw what appeared to be several hundred R.A.F. planes going over to bomb Hamburg. They were all over the place and it was a comforting feeling to know that the Jerries were going to get a good pasting that evening. And what a pasting those Lancasters and Halifaxes do pass out!

      Then we heard a rerific rumbling, which must have come from the flak, for we could see gun flashes in the far distance. It was funny to hear flak from the water. We were used to having it around our ears.

      The gasoline supply was exhausted about 6 o'clock the next morning and all we could do was ride the waves and cuss. We munched malted milk tablets and cheese and drank condensed milk and water. The thoughtful British had even dropped cigarettes to us.

      Finally a Beaufighter came over, then a Lancaster homeward bound from Germany. We fired our Very pistol; we must have gotten results, for a little later two Lockheeds circled for a while and then at noon a third one came over and dropped a supply of gasoline. Those Air-Sea Rescue fellows simply don't forget anything. Lord only knows how many airmen's lives they have saved.

      Having a new supply of gasoline, we cranked the old boat and resumed our jaunt. About 3 o'clock the sea began to act up and the waves tossed us around like corks. Some of us began to get a little sea-sick.

         For what seemed like days, though it was only a matter of hours, we toggled along. Finally, about 10 o'clock, when we had just and hour's supply of gas left, we rode the crest of a wave and saw two boats in front of us, far away. I fired the Very pistol again. One of the skippers saw us - he told us later they were just about to give up the search - and soon we were inside his launch. IT never had a nicer, more comfortable feeling than when I climbed over the rail of that boat.

      The skipper took us to a Royal Naval hospital, where we remained over night before getting back to our base. On the way to the hospital we rested below and crewmen came and offered us brandy. We were pretty weak and took only one drink. A crewman would offer us liquor and when we refused, he'd say, "Well, if ye don't mind I think I'll have one for meself." They had an amazing and interest capacity.

      So, the crew drank the brandy, but we didn't care. All we wanted to do was to get Back to our stations and wait for another crack at the Jerries.

      Maybe that sounds like bravado. It isn't. Like everybody else, we want to help win this war as quickly as possible, but we also want to do a little extra job for our five friends. The fighters will come up to meet us, as they do on every mission into Germany, and they're the lads we want to get.

      When enough of us get in our licks, we'll end this thing once and for all, and then we can go home. I'd like to see Moravia, Iowa, again —it'a just a little burg but it's home.

      I want to go again, as I did when I was a kid in  high school, over to the county seat towns - Albia and Centerville - go to the movies and have dates, see my folks again, and see a girl I haven't put my eyes on for two years.
    ~Eugene Wilcox Jr.

Source: The Moravia Union, November 25, 1943 (photo included)

War Department Tells Of Wilcox

      Confirmation of the report brought here by First Lieut. R. M. Astrologo last week come to Mrs. Ralph McDonough Friday from Col. John B. Cooley, air adjutant general, in Washington, D. C. The letter from Col. Cooley concerned First Lieut Eugene Wilcox, Mrs. McDonough's son, who has been missing in action since Sept. 23.

      The letter from Col. Cooley follows:

      "Information has been received to the effect that Lieut. Wilcox was a crew member of a B-17 Flying Fortress which took place in an operational mission to France on Sept. 23. The report states that your son's plane was last sighted at about 8:30 a. m. over Western France, and although few details are given, it is stated that the loss of the plane is believed to have been caused by the action of enemy aircraft and that those on the plane are believed to have used parachutes.

      "Because of reasons of military security, it is regretted that the names of those who were on the plane and the names ond addresses of their next of kin cannot be furnished at the present time.

      "The above facts constitute all the information available. Your anxiety during this trying period is fully appreciated and you may rest assured that any additional data received will be sent to you immediately."

Source: The Moravia Union, Thursday, Dec. 2, 1943

Missing Since September, 1943 Now Declared Officially Dead

First Lt. Eugene Wilcox, 23, son of Mrs. Ralph McDonough, who has been missing since Sept. 23,1943, has been declared officially dead by the war department on August 12 and the message was received here last Thursday.

Lt. Wilcox enlisted in the army as an air corps cadet Jan. 23, 1942 and received his wings and a commission as Second Lieutenant Aug. 7, 1942. He went overseas in April 1943.

He was shot down during a raid over the German coast in early August and landed his Flying Fortress in the English Channel and he and his surviving crew spent two days and nights on the water before being rescued. About a month later in a letter to his mother he reported that he was recovering from the ill effects of being in the water and was returning to combat duty. At that time he was only ten missions short of the retirement from combat.

The message from the war department in his mother's telegram on Oct. 6, 1943 from the adjutant general informed her that he was missing in action and the information came last Thursday that he failed to return from a mission over Lorient, France on Sept. 23, 1943. 

Surviving are his mother, Mrs. Ralph McDonough of Moravia, his father, Eugene Wilcox, Sr. of Des Moines, his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wilcox of Eddyville and many other close relatives and friends.

Memorial services are planned for Sunday, Sept. 2.

Source: The Moravia Union, August 23, 1945

Memorial Services For Eugene Wilcox

      Memorial services for First Lieutenant Eugene Wilcox who was declared officially dead Aug. 12, 1945, in a plane crash over Lorient, France, in September, 1943, will be held at 2:30 p. m. Sunday at the Methodist church. Rev. L. B. Hawes will be in charge.

      The floral tributes are to be brought to the Turner funeral home Sunday before time of service. The family will meet at the Turner home preceding the service at the church.

Source: The Moravia Union - Thursday August 30, 1945 - Page 1

Memorial Services For Eugene Wilcox

      Roy Woodward, Donald Johnson, Richard Veach, Roscoe Day, Orman Whicker and Claude Sharp, Veterans of World War II, were the honorary pallbearers at the Memorial service held for First Lt. Eugene Wilcox, Jr., Sunday at the Methodist church.

      Mrs. George Winsler and Mrs. George Firkins sang "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" and "Crossing The Bar," with Mrs. Roy Winsler at the piano.

      In charge of the floral tributes were Dorothy Nowels, Margaret Ward and Ted Oehler. A military service was held at the Hillcrest cemetery and the Basil Cowell post of the American Legion an charge.

    Obituary

      Eugene Wilcox, Jr., son of Eugene Wilcox, Sr., and Daphne Wilcox McDonough, was born May 4, 1920, in Eddyville, Iowa, coming to Moravia at the age of six years, with his mother. He attended grade and high school in Moravia graduating with the class of 1938. Following his graduation he attended Junior College in Albia for one year.

      Always having been very much interested in airplanes, it was not strange to those who knew him that he should enlist in the army air force, which he did, on January 23, 1942, at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. From here he was sent to Bakers Field, California, and received his wings and commission as Second Lieutenant on August 27, 1942, at Lukes Field, Arizona.

      After a brief furlough at home he was shipped overseas in April, 1943, to be based in England with the 413th Squadron, Eighth Air Force. Within three months he had particiapted in enough missions of combat to qualify for the Air Medal;two oak leaf clusters for distinguished service in aerial combat, and was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, and assigned to pilot duty.

      Characteristic of Eugene was his care for his comrades aboard the bomber shot down during one of his missions over Germany when they were afloat in the English Channel until finally picked up by the English navy two and one-half days after the bombers' destruction.

      Following this experience he was sent to a rest camp for a very short time to recuperate from the nerve shock he suffered. When given his choice of continuing combat missions or being permanently grounded, he elected to return to combat duty, even though his letters home indicated he realized his weakened physical and nervous condition. He lacked only ten combat missions to complete his campaign, and was looking forward to giving the last full measure of duty asked of him.

      Following his decision to carry on, he was declared missing in action on his first combat mission, on September 23, 1943. For nearly two years his parents and friends waited in hope, but on August 12, 1945, an official finding of death was recorded, and his mother was so notified.

      Posthumous award of the Purple Heart and Presidential Citation has been made, besides the testimony of the commanding officers to his merit as a gentleman and an officer.

      Eugene united with the Moravia Methodist church August 18, 1929, where he attended Church School throughout his boyhood.

      Surviving are his mother, Mrs. Ralph McDonough, of Moravia, his father, Eugene Wilcox, Sr., of Des Moines, his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wilcox of Eddyville, and many other relatives and friends.

      Relatives here from a distance to attend the memorial services were Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Wilcox, Sr., and Mrs. Dan Sullivan of Des Moines, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wilcox, Mr. and Mrs. Arch Harding and daughter, Mildred of Eddyville.

    CARD OF THANKS

      We extend our sincere thanks to those who sent flowers and other expressions of sympathy, the American Legion, the Legion Auxiliary, and all others who assisted in any way during our bereavement. ~Mr. and Mrs. Ralph McDonough, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Wilcox, And Friends.

Source: The Moravia Union - Thursday September 06, 1945 - Page 1

NOTICE OF PROBATE OF WILL

      District Court in and for Appanoose County, Iowa, State of Iowa, Appanoose County.

      To all whom it may concern: Whereas on the 14th day of Sept., A. D., 1945,,a paper purporting to be last will and testament of Eugene Wilcox, Jr., late of said county, deceased, was filed in my office, and was by me opened and read and:the 15th day of October, 1945, appointed and fixed as the time when the same will come before, me, then to be held for final proof and probate, as the last will and testament of the said Eugene Wilcox, Jr., deceased, at which time all persons interested may appear and show cause why the same should not be admitted to probate.

      Dated this 14th day of Sept., 1945.
      M. G. LUSE,
      Clerk of the District Court.,
    George A. Milani, Atty.

Source: The Moravia Union - Thursday October 04, 1945

Born: 4 May 4 1920, Eddyville, Iowa

Age: 23

Family:
Eugene Wilcox Sr (father)
Ralph McDonough (adopted father)
Daphne McDonough (mother)

Shot down 28 July 1943 in B-17 42-30351 'Alcohol Annie. ' Plane crashed into North Sea. Returned to base.

413 Bomb Squadron, 96 Bomber Group/Heavy

Shot down 23 September 1943 in B-17 42-3318 'Shack Rabbit II. ' KIA.

Source: ancestry.com; American Air Museum in Britain