Hamilton County


Capt. James V. Wilke





Widely Known Webster City Flier Overseas for 21 Months.

Captain James Vernon Wilke, 27, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Wilke of this city, was killed in an airplane crash Wednesday, Jan. 26, at Accra in central Africa, his wife and parents were notified Friday morning by the war department.

The message sent by Adjutant-General Ulio stated that a letter with full details would follow.

On His Way Home

It was believed that Captain Wilke was on his way home for a leave after spending 20 months in air corps service overseas, most of it in the Indian theater of war. A letter written Dec. 31 and received here stated he was then at an Indian base, and reports from members of the air corps home on leave from that war zone, indicated that the Webster City flier might be in the next group of men to be accorded leaves.

Accra, a town of some 40,000 people is on the “Gold Coast” of British West Africa and the flier’s presence there would indicate he was enroute back to the U .S.

Captain Wilke served with a fighter squadron in India and was recommended for the Silver Star award for his leadership during a Jap aerial assault on Assam. At one time he served as squadron engineer officer and was also a flight commander.

Led Fighter Pilots

He was prominently mentioned in Associated Press dispatches as a leader of fighter pilots in allied attacks on Jap held Burma territory.

A graduate of the Webster City schools and Webster City junior college, Captain Wilke enlisted in the air corps Sept. 7, 1940, taking initial training in Missouri. He received his wings at Brooks Field, Texas, April 25, 1941, and for some time before being sent overseas was stationed at several fields in California.

Besides his parents and wife, the former Lois Forrester, he leaves one sister, Frances, and a 15-month old son, James Vernon, whom he had never seen.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, January 28, 1944

James Vernon Wilke was born Sept. 1, 1916 to Will G. and Lola Staver Wilke. He died Jan. 26, 1944 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, IA.

Source: ancestry.com; World War II Memorial