Obituary Details

Major Virgil Olds

(01/31/1915 - 05/24/1945)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 06/13/1946

Major Virgil Olds, Missing Over Japan May 24, 1945, Declared Dead

Major Virgil Olds was officially declared dead by the Army in a letter received last week by the grandfather, Robert S. Bell. The letter was addressed to Mrs. Bell, who died last year. The letter in part follows:

"Since your grandson, Major Virgil Olds was reported missing in action 24 May 1945, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence. However, as in many cases, the conditions of warfare deny us such information. The record concerning your grandson shows that he was a member of a crew of B-29 aircraft which departed its base on Saipan on an incendiary bombing mission to Tokyo, Japan, on 24 May 1945. Your grandson's plane was a pathfinder for following aircraft, and it is thought that the bomber was hit while over the target, as enemy opposition was heavy and several of our planes were shot down. However, because of darkness these planes could not be identified by accompanying crews. The record further indicates that your grandson was promoted to Major, with rank effective 11 June 1945.

Full consideration has recently been given to all available information bearing on the absence of your grandson, including all records, reports, and circumstances. These have been carefully reviewed and considered. In view of the fact that twelve months have now expired without the receipt of evidence to support a continued presumption of survival, the War Department must terminate such absence by a presumptive finding of death.

Accordingly, an official finding of death has been recorded under the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, approved March 7, 1942, as amended."

Virgil Olds was born at the Bell ranch a mile south of Node, January 31, 1915, and would have been 31 last January. He was the son of Ray and Mildred Olds, but his mother died when he was born and the grandparents assumed the responsibility of rearing the boy. Though the father is living, his whereabouts are not known.

Virgil went through the Node Grade School and graduated from Lusk High School in 1933, Mrs. and Mrs. Bell moving to Lusk when he started to high school.

After graduation, he operated the ranch at Node. His military training began in the Lusk unit of the National Guard, and after five years of service he was commissioned a second lieutenant in November, 1939, and promoted to a first lieutenant in May 1940.

He held such rank when the Guard as Company C., 116th Quartermaster Regiment, was mobilized in September, 1940, for war service. After serving for a period with the Niobrara group, he was transferred to Headquarters of the 2nd Bat., 116th, QM Regt. And promoted to 1941.

While yet at Lusk, and unknown to his grandparents, Virgil took private flying lessons at Scottsbluff and other nearby places. This put him in a position to apply for "flight training in grade" and his ability was such that he was accepted without loss of rank.

He went into this training in 1942, and served as an instructor at West Coast and Southern fields for some time. He then went into B-29 training as a pilot and participated in the Japan campaign.

Devoted to his grandparents, he kept from them as long as possible the worry that he had joined the Air Corps. All through the war he looked to the welfare of the elderly couple that had brought him to manhood, and he left a will bequeathing all that he had to them.

He was a member of Harmony Lodge S. F. & A.M. of Lusk.

Thon Book 4
Capt. Virgil Olds, B-29 Pilot, Missing in Japan

Lyle A. Bell of Provo, Utah, arrived in Lusk on Wednesday to break the word to his father, Robert S. Bell, that the latter's grandson, Capt. Virgil Olds, was reported missing in action over Japan.

Capt. Olds was raised by his grandparents and the report is a severe blow to Mr. Bell, who is well advanced in years.

The telegram was received by Lyle Bell and the letter which followed gave no additional information. The message reads:

Lyle A. Bell,
Provo, Utah.

The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your nephew, Capt. Virgil Olds, has been missing in action over Japan since 24th of May, 1945. Confirming letter follows.

The Adjutant General.

Capt. Olds was the pilot of a B-29 based on Saipan. He belonged to the Lusk National Guard and was sent to Fort Lewis in 1940, two years later joining the Air Corps and took his training in Arizona.

He was then an instructor at an air base in Texas until going overseas last August.

It is nearly two years since he visited his grandfather in Lusk.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Bell, Lyle (09/10/1894 - 11/22/1975) View Record
Obituary Miller, Thomas (05/28/1931 - 06/01/2005) View Record
Obituary Bell, Wilhelmena (02/13/1869 - 09/04/1944) View Record
Obituary Bell, Robert (12/10/1862 - 05/09/1947) View Record
Obituary Bell, Thomas (11/30/-0001 - 12/02/1929) View Record
Obituary Miller, Elizabeth (04/13/1871 - 10/13/1953) View Record
Obituary Olds, Mildred (09/07/1890 - 01/15/1915) View Record
Historical Olds, Major Virgil: World War II Declared Dead View Record