John Edgar Wilson Jr.

Posted on Tuesday 3 July 2012


John Edgar Wilson Jr.
Ship’s Cook, Third Class

Age: 20
Birthplace: Brockport, New York
Marital status: Single
Acknowledgements: John Edgar Wilson, III, nephew; Philip Anselmo, Daily Messenger, Canandaigua, NY

John Edgar “Jack” Wilson, Jr., the second of three sons, was born to Alicia Lillian Murphy and John Edgar Wilson, Sr. on April 16, 1922, in Brockport, New York.

During the war Jack’s older brother Dick was in the Army and fought in the European campaign, while younger brother Bob served in the Pacific in 1943. At his son Jack’s request, their father proudly displayed the “Sons in Service” flag in his home in Canandaigua, New York.

Jack, Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on April 19, 1940, and went on active duty in the Navy on June 11, 1940. After completing basic training at Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, he attended Submarine School at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, from August 1940 to January 1941. His first assignment was aboard the submarine U.S.S. S-20 (SS-105) from February 1941 to March 1942, followed by service at New London for the fitting out of U.S.S. Grunion from March to April 1942, remaining aboard Grunion at her commissioning on April 11, 1942.

When Jack was 8 years old his mother died. Early in the Great Depression, John Sr., knowing that he was unable to take care of his three young sons while he went to work, placed them into a boys’ home. It was a very anxious time for all of them, but their father visited on weekends and stayed in touch with them always. It was not as though they were abandoned. By their high school years they were once again all living together with their father in Canandaigua, New York.

Jack was a faithful correspondent while he was in New London. In a letter to his Aunt Polly he wrote, “I enlisted in the U.S. Navy last June and spent eight weeks at the Naval Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island learning discipline and Navy routine. It was hard work and they were very strict on rules and regulations. On a nine day furlough I was able to visit the family. Then they sent me here at the Submarine Base for shore duty since August 23 learning how to cook, as that’s the trade I’m taking up. I like the Navy very much and plan to stay in 20 years and retire with a pension, not bad is it?”

In what was probably Jack’s last letter to his dad, dated June 23, 1942, he said, “If sometime you don’t hear from me for three months don’t worry as I’ll be all right, but not able to write. If it’s not too much trouble would you send me the Messenger every week like you sent it to Dick when he was in Iceland. Can’t say where I am, but I’m happy and enjoying myself. – Love, Jack.”

September 29, 1942, his father sent to his eldest son Dick, this nine words long telegram.
“WIRE FROM NAVY THIS MORNING, JACK IS GONE. DAD.”

A memorial marker for John has been placed in the Wilson family cemetery plot in Genesco, New York.

Copyright © 2012 Mary Bentz. All Rights Reserved


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