|Ira Wilson (left), captain of Cornell University boxing team, later Lt (jg) USS Atlanta.|
photo from 1937 Cornell University yearbook
Ira Washington Wilson could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on February 23, 1917 in New York. His mother was born in New Jersey and her parents were both born in Russia, which may explain why she would pick Washington as Ira's middle name in tribute to her family's new home country. His father was born in Pennsylvania and worked as a high school teacher. Ira had one older sister. By 1940 Ira had completed 4 years of college at Cornell University, were he had been captain of the boxing team, and was working as a buyer in the men's furnishings industry. He was still living with his parents.
Ira became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, US Naval Reserves. He served on the light cruiser USS Atlanta.
During a night action that came to be know as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Atlanta was part of an America naval force that engaged two Japanese battleships, one cruiser and six destroyers on November 12-13, 1942. A torpedo from one of the Japanese destroyers struck Atlanta's forward engine room on the port side. Shortly thereafter Atlanta suffered friendly fire from the USS San Francisco and was hit by an estimated nineteen 8-inch shells. A third of the crew was killed including Lt. Wilson.
|Painting depicting the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942|
His is honored at an Arlington National Cemetery grave site. The death date on his headstone is off by one year and one day reflecting a practice of not giving a date of death on missing sailors until one year had passed without a recovered body.
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