Saturday, February 11, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Johnston Wiles + I Dream of Jeannie tie-in

Johnston "Jack" Wiles high school yearbook picture.
John Muir High School, 1934
Johnston "Jack" B. Wiles, Jr. could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on February 11, 1917 in Ohio. His mother was also born in Ohio. His father was born in Pennsylvania and worked as a newspaper printer first in Ohio and later in Pasadena, California. Johnston had two older sisters who were 13  and 18 years his senior. He attended John Muir High School in Pasadena where he participated in band, orchestra, and drama.

By 1940 Jack and his parents had moved to San Francisco where his father was still a printer. Jack had graduated from high school but was not working when the census was taken. Perhaps he was attending school at the time. Jack joined the US Navy Reserves and was a lieutenant serving on an Infantry Landing Craft (Large).

Lt. Wiles ship, third from left.

On D-Day June 6, 1944,  Lt. Wiles was one of three officers who with 21 crew manned the USS LCI(L)-219, a ship about half the length of a football field which transported about a company's worth of men to Omaha Beach. A first-hand account by the ship's engineering officer, Lt. William Becker, says they went in with the seventeenth wave at 10 AM. Records show that Lt. Wiles died on that day. Strangely, Becker makes no mention of any casualties from his crew on D-Day, even though this would have been the ship's first casualty from the war. However, five days later an enemy airplane dropped a bomb that exploded ten feet from the ship's side, killing and wounding crew members. The ship sank that day. 

His remains were returned to be buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery. 

An intriguing note for Lt. Wiles was left on the website in 2002, 58 years after his death:

My Dearest Jackson,

I have been thinking of you as today Febrary 11 is your birthday and I just wanted to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!You will forever be in my heart.I shall always remember you with your good looks and bright smile. Your former girlfriend.
June Staley 

Thank you Jack for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Jack.


Also born on November 11, 1917 was the prolific writer Sidney Sheldon. While his name may not be as familiar to modern audiences, he wrote 18 novels and 25 screenplays including Easter Parade and Annie Get Your Gun.

During the war Sheldon lied about his health to get into the Army Air Corp. He had bad eyesight, so he couldn't directly qualify for fighters or bombers, but he could qualify for something called the War Training Service where he learned the basics of flying. Before he could complete advanced flight training school the WTS was discontinued and this time the Army would not take him due to his health issues.

Apart from his success as a screenwriter and novelist, Sheldon is best known for being the creator of the iconic 1960's TV comedy, I Dream of Jeannie. Sheldon died in 2007 at the age of 89.

If you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others. Thanks for your interest!

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100


  1. Thank you for sharing this information about Lt. Wiles! That message from the girlfriend is both beautiful and heartbreaking! SO many young girls lost their sweethearts in that awful war!

    I got to read much of the medical record of a young man who enlisted in the USNR, in 1940. He was the son of and namesake of a retired Naval officer who had been a football star on the US Naval Academy. The son applied for OCS and then for pilot training. He succeeded in both. Sadly, during an exercise somewhere in the Pacific, off of California, his plane was seen going into some clouds and never seen again. The Navy's policy, in such cases, was to list the man as officially missing, for one year. Anyway, the record contained a copy of the young man's fiance, pleading for more information about his fate, and the reply that, sadly, there was no more information to be had. There is also a letter from his mother, which is especially heartbreaking. I can send you more information on him, if you would like. He was born in 1918, as were quite a few young men I know of, with ties to the Naval Academy, who were lost in WWII. I'm posting here with my Hawaiian name, but I'm Darillyn on the Facebook US Naval History Buffs group.

    1. Please send me more details and I can reserve that date for 1918. Thanks for the help!