WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
(local man and pilot killed in World War II)
BIOGRAPHYRodney Neilson was born July 24, 1919 in Washington, Utah.
Rodney was a graduate of Dixie Junior College and attended Utah State Agricultural College for one year.
Neilson was employed by Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California when he entered the U. S. Army Air Corps January 7, 1943 at Fort Douglas, Utah.
Following graduation as a gunner in Laredo, Texas he received radio training at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He received additional training in other phases at Grand Forks, North Dakota; Santa Anna, Blythe, and Bakersfield, California.
On March 23, 1944, at Ripley Auxiliary Field #1 in Blythe, Rodney was piloting a Fairchild PT-27 trainer and was involved in a takeoff mid-air collision with another student pilot. Both pilots survived.
Rodney received his commission as a Flight Officer at La Junta, Colorado having received special training with the Lockheed P-38. Rodney left for overseas duty in March of 1945. He was assigned to the 38th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron under the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific. The 38th was assigned to the 4th Photo Recon Group on December 12, 1944.
Rodney was flying a mission May 13, 1945 aboard a F5F-2, a modified version of the P-38, when his plane failed to return. He was on a mission to the SE Celebes when his plane ran out of fuel at Pulau Merampit, an island of the Nanoesa group, near the Talaud Islands, located southeast of Mindanao, Philippine Islands. Rodney landed offshore at 1500 hours in the vicinity of Raruhe village. He was apprehended by the village chief and turned over to the Japanese on May 22, 1945. He was taken to Rainis, a village in the Talauds, and executed by decapitation June 10, 1945. Rodney's remains were buried in a round grave near Rainis.
In March of 1947 Rodney's remains were recovered and transported to the Philippines by Flight Lieutenant F. Belcher of the Royal Australian Air Force. Burial was performed at the USAF cemetery Manila #2, plot 4, row 5, grave 630, on March 4, 1947.
by Clark N. Nelson, Sr.
Memories of World War II and some of it's local heroes, including Rodney Neilson (pp. 3-8, 17).
Documents relating to the death of Rodney Neilson:
Form 1908, Identification Check List, 11/19/1948
Letter: Report of Burials, 1/10/1947
Letter: Casualty Information, 1/10/1947
Australian Letter: Summary of Information, 11/13/1946
" Page 2
Extract of a Letter from the Field, 5/5/1946
Drawing of the original gravesite on Rainis, Karakelang Island