George W. Wilson
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
B-17 pilot, 381st Bomb Group

He was born in Shreveport in a four-room house as one of three brothers and three sisters. George helped the family by delivering circulars, working as a caddy, assisting a beekeeper, and assembling The Shreveport Times. After graduating from Fair Park High School in 1937, George went to work at the post office where he served as a carrier for three years before the war. He married Helen Thompson of Minden in April of 1941. He took the test for aviation training and was surprised when he not only passed but also made a good grade. George entered service in the fall of 1942 and was commissioned on June 30, 1943. He turned down an instructor's position stateside for B-17 training at Hendricks Field in Sebring, Florida, and additional training at England Field near Alexandria, Louisiana. Heading overseas in February of 1944, George was assigned to the 535th Bombardment Squadron, 381st Bombardment Group in Ridgewell, England. Assigned to a warn-out bomber, "Patches and Prayers," he flew about half of his thirty-one missions in three and a half months, receiving flak damage on all but two. He flew the rest of his missions in a new B-17, christened "Stage Door Canteen" in a special christening ceremony with Mary Churchill, the prime minister's daughter, and actress Vivian Leigh. George received the Distinguished Flying Cross for completing twenty-five missions. "I didn't have a scratch," he says of his combat experience. Returning to the states in July of 1945, he spent the rest of the war in training and as an instructor. Discharged in September of 1945, he returned to the post office, finally serving as director of customer services, with two hundred offices under his administration. He retired in 1976.