SSGT Wilbur Byron Koloen

SSGT Wilbur Byron Koloen

Adams, Mower County, Minnesota, USA
Death 25 Jun 1943 (aged 22)
Cenotaph Adams, Mower County, Minnesota, USA
Plot 105
Memorial ID 20316524 · View Source
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Wilbur's body was never recovered, according to Information from family history.

From the Adams Review:
As this war continues the pangs of sorrow that goes with it seems to be coming closer to our midst. We have had some of our boys injured and others confined to beds by sickness. An now one of our boys from town is listed as missing in action. Al last Friday, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Koloen received the unpleasant news from the war department by wire that their son Staff Sergeant Wilbur Koloen was missing in action after not having returned from a bombing mission over the European War Area.

Sgt. Koloen volunteered into the service about two years ago. After being in the service for some time he chose to become an aerial gunner, to which course he fitted into naturally. You will recall that some time ago he flew over this village, in a flying fortress giving his many friends their first opportunity to see a fortress, flying at a low altitude so we could distinguish many of its characteristics.

We and the entire community, with his parents will hope that he was spared his life and will some day return to our midst.

Memorial Service Held for Staff Sgt. Wilbur Koloen

Memorial services for Wilbur Koloen were held at Little Cedar Church last Sunday morning at 11:00 o'clock. The service began with the usual Processional Hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy", during which the congregation was standing and the Senior Choir marched in. Then followed the opening prayer, the opening hymn, No. 212 in the Hymnary, the Confession of Sin, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Collect and the Epistle Lesson for the day. Before the sermon the audience sang, "God Bless Our Native Land."

Rev. Breivik chose for his text John 6:40. He said in part: As Christians we hold citizenship in two realms. We are citizens of the United States of America, and citizens of the Kingdom of God. We enjoy privileges and have responsibilities in both of these realms. As citizens of these United States we certainly enjoy many blessing among which are the blessing of liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. America has become the symbol of freedom, opportunity, and happiness for oppressed men everywhere. But as citizens of the United States we also have obligations and responsibilities especially when our nation is at war. War is a terrible thing, and every right thinking person hates war. But when our nation and our way of life have been attacked by aggressive forces that would destroy the things we hold most dear, there is only one thing for us as citizens to do, and that is to rise solidly in defense of our country. So when our boys and girls, men and women, in response to our country's call, go out into the various forms of war service we send them forth with our blessing and our prayers. We honor them for their obedient loyalty and pray that they may be found faithful, brave and strong in the line of duty. We pray that, if it be God's will, they may be restored to us sound and well. We know that all will not come back alive. We already have one gold star on our service flag. Staff Sergeant Wilbur B. Koloen has made the supreme sacrifice. He died that we might not be enslaved by a foreign power. He died that we may continue to enjoy all the freedom prevailing in this country. He died that we might continue living the American way of life. But he still lives. As Christians we are members of another Kingdom. We know that there is a life after this. He spoke briefly on the blessings of eternal life as the comfort and consolation to the bereaved.

After the sermon the American Legion in a body marched to the front of the church to their reserved seats, headed by the color bearers, while the audience was standing. Having taken their places all were seated, the color bearers standing at attention.

The Senior Choir sang, "Abide with Me", and the following obituary was read:

Staff Sergeant Wilbur b. Koloen, was born in Adams, Minn., July 1, 1920. He was baptized in the Little Cedar Church on July 18th the same year. He received his early Christian training in the home in the Little Cedar Week-Day Bible School, and in the confirmation class. He was confirmed May 12, 1935 in this church. After confirmation he was a member of the Luther League and the Church Choir. He attended the Bible Camp one summer from which he received great spiritual blessings and assurance in his Christian faith.

His secular education was received in the Adams Public Schools, graduating from high school in 1939. He was very active in almost all extra activities in the high school, such as basketball, football, and other sports. He also had a keen interest in music and was a member of the high school band.

He attended the Basic course of instruction in Infantry Arm, at the Citizens' Military Training Camp held under the auspices of the War Department of the United States, at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota during the summer of 1937, and during the summer of 1938 he attended the Red Course of Instruction in Cavalry Arm, at the Citizens' Military Camp held under the auspices of the War Department of the United States, at Camp Harry McHenry, Fort Des Moines, Iowa, for which he received Military Training Certificates. He was a lover of horses and took much pleasure in horseback riding.

He volunteered in the United States Army, March 19, 1941. He was first placed in a Medical and Hospital Corps unit and stationed at Fort Warren, Cheyenne, Wyoming. He took up the study of Dentistry and set out to specialize in this highly technical course, attending a special school at El Paso, Texas for three months.

However, as much as he liked the Medical Corps, he had a keen desire to get into the air. His wish was gratified when he was permitted to transfer his enlistment to the Army Air Corps His training in the air took him from his initial air corps training center at San Antonio, Teas to Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada; Wendover Field, Utah; Scribner Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Kearney, Nebraska and then across to the eastern seaboard and down at Bangor, Maine. He flew across the Atlantic Ocean from an undisclosed base the latter part of April 1943, going to Great Britain. He was very faithful in writing home. Every week and often twice a week there would be a letter from Wilbur. His last letter to his folks was dated June 24, 1943.

On June 25, 1943, he was participating in a one-thousand-plane raid over Northwest Germany, when twenty-six fortresses were shot down by anti-aircraft fire and fighter planes.

On July 2nd his parents received a telegram from the War Department in Washington, D.C., stating that Wilbur was missing in action, and that when further information was received they would be promptly notified. On September 4th another telegram came stating the Wilbur was killed in action on June 25th. A letter from the War Department followed confirming the message of the telegram that Wilbur died on June 25th.

Shortly afterward his parents received the following message from the Secretary of State, dated September 27, 1943:

"My Dear Mr. Koloen:

You will shortly receive the Purple Heart medal, which has been posthumously awarded by direction of the President to your son, Staff Sergeant Wilbur B. Koloen, Air Corps. It is sent as a tangible expression of our country's gratitude for his gallantry and devotion.

It is sent to you, as well, with my deepest personal sympathy for your bereavement. The loss of a loved one is beyond man's repairing, and the medal is of slight value; not so, however the message it carries. We are all comrades in arms in this battle for our country, and those who have gone are no, and never will be, forgotten by those of us who remain. I hope you will accept the medal in evidence of such remembrance.

Sincerely yours, Henry L. Stimson"

Our sympathy is extended to the parents and relatives. May the thought that he gave his life unselfishly in the service of his country be of sustaining comfort to them. In the words of General G. C. Marshall in a letter of September 13, 1943: "Wilbur Koloen died a gallant soldier's death in our battle for liberty and decency. I hope you will find consolation in the fact that he sacrificed his life in the service of the people of America and the cause of democracy throughout the world."

"God grant us wisdom in these coming days, and eyes unsealed, that we clear visions see of that new world that He would have us build, to life's ennoblement and His high ministry."

Dr. Louis A. Huseby, on behalf of the American Legion, presented Mr. and Mrs. Koloen with the American flag.

Many memorial wreaths were given by the parents, relatives and friends.

The services closed with a duet by Mrs. E.S. Anderson and Mrs. N.V. Torgerson who sang, "Till the Last Bugle Blows" and the Benediction.

The following is from an account written by the pilot of Wilbur's plane, Weldon F. Holmes:

On Jun. 25, 1943, 1st Lt. Holmes departed with a crew of 10 on a B-17F (S/N: 42-30107) from Kimbolton, England on an operational mission to northwest Germany (Hamburg and the rail center). Heavy condensation trails (contrails) followed the bombers, which, according to Holmes, allowed the German fighters to more easily find the bombers.

According to pilot Holmes, the bomber was hit and started spiraling downward. There was no controlling the ship and so he ordered the men to bail out. All bailed out except Sgts Winston D. Tinker and Wilbur B. Koloen, who were hit and killed by gunfire and were slumped in their stations.

Information from

42-30107 "Black Magic" Assigned to the 526th BS Fuselage Code - LF-D. She went MIA 25/6/43 with the Weldon Holmes Crew on board.

Pilot Weldon Holmes - POW
Co-pilot: Bill Griffith - POW
Navigator: Leo Gladin - POW
Bombardier: Bob Andrews - POW
Radio Operator: Milton Bailey - POW
Waist gunner: Marshall Sanford - POW
Waist gunner: Verne Shovan - POW
Tail gunner: Roy Dillbeck - POW
Eng/TT Gunner: Winston Tinker - KIA
BTG: Wilbur Koleon - KIA

Excerpts from Crew testimony on MACR

We were hit and the ship started a downward spiral. There was no controlling it so the Pilot gave the order to bailout. The Navigator went first followed by the bombardier through the front hatch. The Co-Pilot went toward the aircraft's rear to check on the enlisted men. The Engineer/Gunner was slumped at his position having been killed by the initial attack and the BTG was found the same way. The waist Gunners followed next through the waist door and the Tail Gunner had to be coerced to bail having manage to climb into the waist. Next went the Co-Pilot through the Bomb Bay Doors followed by the Pilot. MACR 1366

Family Members

  • Created by: Janet Stephenson
  • Added: 6 Jul 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20316524
  • Janet Stephenson
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for SSGT Wilbur Byron Koloen (1 Jul 1920–25 Jun 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20316524, citing Little Cedar Cemetery, Adams, Mower County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Janet Stephenson (contributor 46853083) .