Hamilton County


Robert Donald Wylie




Youth’s Father Receives Message From Navy Department.

Robert Wylie of this city received notice from the navy department Tuesday morning that his son, Robert Donald Wylie, 20, fireman first class aboard a U. S. submarine, was missing in action.

The youth enlisted in the naval service three years ago at the age of 17 and received his preliminary training at the Great Lakes naval station before being transferred to San Diego, Cal.

Saw Action

The sailor had seen plenty of action, according to his father, although he had never said much about his duties aboard the undersea craft to which he had been transferred about a year ago. He had been stationed for some time in Hawaii, and not long after he had completed a short leave here last summer, sent back clippings originating from Washington, D. C., in praise of his ship’s activities especially in the Southern Pacific.

Although Mr. Wylie had not heard from his son personally since October, a V-mail letter sent to the sailor’s sister in Des Moines about three weeks ago said he was well but was too busy to write very much.


The announcement of the youth being missing came in a telegram from Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, the chief of the naval personnel. It reads:

The navy department deeply regrets to inform you that your son, Robert Donald Wylie, fireman first class, U. S. Navy, is missing following action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country. The department appreciates your great anxiety, but details not now available and delay in receipt thereof must necessarily be expected to prevent a possible aid to our enemies. Please do not divulge the name of his ship or station.”

The announcement Tuesday raised to ten the number of Hamilton county men reported as missing in action in the various branches of the armed forces.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Feb. 16, 1943


WASHINGTON, D. C. —(AP) —The navy announced Saturday 61 casualties in navy forces, including 9 dead, 13 wounded and 39 missing. This brings to 23,488 the total of navy, marine corps and coast guard casualties reported to the next of kin since Dec. 7, 1941.

Casualties announced Saturday, from Iowa, included:

Mac Edward Campbell, missing; father, Harlan S. Campbell, Blockton.

Robert Donald Wylie, missing; father, Robert Wylie, Webster City

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Feb. 20, 1943


Missing Local Youth Was Fireman Aboard Huge Submarine.

Robert D. Wylie, son of Robert Wylie of this city, who was reported missing last week while on duty with the U. S. navy, served on the U. S. S. Argonaut, announced by the U. S. navy department as “presumed to be lost” after patrol operations in the Pacific.

The youth, a fireman first class and a veteran of three years service, had been on the submarine for over a year, according to his father.

According to a dispatch from fleet headquarters in Hawaii, the Argonaut, world’s largest underwater craft, was on offensive patrol against enemy shipping and intercepted a Japanese convoy not far from Rabaul, New Britain, apparently bound for Lae, New Guinea.

Attacked with depth charges shortly after torpedoing a d destroyer, the sub was forced to the surface where it was hit by circling Jap destroyers. Another U. S. submarine revenged the Argonaut two hours later by getting the two largest ships in the convoy.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Feb. 22, 1943


Robert D. Wylie Was Lost in Action Jan. 10, 1943, on Submarine.

Robert D. Wylie, MM3c, Webster City sailor reported Lost Jan. 10, 1943, aboard the submarine Argonaut in Pacific war action, has been listed officially as dead according to a letter received here by his father, Robert Wylie.

The notice sent by Secretary Frank Knox says in part:

“On Jan. 10, 1943, your son, Robert Donald Wylie, machinist’s mate third class, USN, was serving aboard the U. S. S. Argonaut when that submarine was forced to the surface as a result of depth charge explosives. While thus exposed the Argonaut was observed from united nations planes to be hit several times by gunfire of enemy destroyers.

“Following this engagement, no report has been received which indicates that the personnel aboard could have survived.

“In view of these circumstances and considering the length of time which has elapsed since that action, I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that your son is deceased.”

The letter concluded with a statement that the official date of Wylie’s death has been fixed as Jan. 11, 1944—a year and a day after he was reported missing.

Wylie enlisted in the navy Dec. 5, 1940, and had always been in the submarine division. For some time he was stationed at Pearl Harbor, but returned home on a short furlough in the summer of 1942. His ship, the Argonaut, was the largest U. S. sub afloat.

Besides his father, the sailor leaves one sister, Mrs. Martha Lemon of Des Moines.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Feb. 8, 1944 (photo included)


Father Receives Official Navy Honors for Lost Sailor.

An official citation honoring the late Robert D. Wylie, Fireman first class, who died aboard the U. S. S. Argonaut, worlds largest sub, in January, 1942, has been received here by his father Robert Wylie.

The citation, signed by Rear Admiral C. A. Lockwood, commander of the submarine force of the U. S. Pacific fleet, reads as follows:

“On a war patrol conducted by the U. S. S. Argonaut in heavily patrolled waters, that vessel is known to have closed and delivered a successful attack against an enemy destroyer. As a result of a severe counter attack, the Argonaut was forced to break surface, but with no regard for personal safety and in the face of imminent death, the officers and crew accepted destruction rather than surrender. This patrol of the Argonaut is symbolic of the courageous, determined and aggressive conduct and spirit of self-sacrifice of the submarine personnel and served as an inspiration to other submarines.

“As Fireman First Class of the U. S. S. Argonaut, Robert D. Wylie’s performance of duty was an important and material contribution to the courageous and determined attack against superiors enemy forces. The commander submarine force, Pacific fleet, is pleased to forward this commendation on a splendid performance of duty which was in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service.”

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, June 30, 1944


Robert Wylie of this city has received the Purple Heart medal awarded his son, Robert D. Wylie, MM 3-c, who was lost aboard the U. S. sub Argonaut, in January, 1943.

A certificate of award also has been received by the serviceman’s father from the navy department which last January listed the Webster City mariner killed in action after being missing for a year and a day.

The Argonaut, largest U. S sub, was lost in the Pacific when it rose to the surface to give battle to a Jap destroyer which had severely damaged the sub. All personnel aboard the sub were given the presidential unit citation.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - July 29, 1944

Robert Donald Wylie, Machinist's Mate Third Class U.S. Navy - MIA/KIA

Robert Donald Wylie was born Aug. 22, 1923 to Robert William and Hilda Greenfield Wylie. He died Jan. 11, 1944 and is memorialized at the Tablets of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines.

He was reported missing in action, Feb. 10, 1943. He was declared killed in action aboard the submarine USS Argonaut (SS-166). An Army reconnaissance plane reported the action in which the undersea craft, largest of her kind in the U.S. Navy, intercepted a Japanese convoy not far from Rabaul, New Britain. 

Robert was awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Patrol Insignia with a gold star.

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA
World War II Memorial
World War II Honoree
National Purple Heart Hall of Honor