GILHOUSEN, WILLIAM RICHARD, Captain, Service # 0-667062, U.S Army Air Force
Captain Gilhousen was born 23 January 1920, to Lawrence Eugene Gilhousen (1897-1986) and Della Luella Hardin (1899-1981), Polk, Iowa. He enlisted 23 February 1942 (enlisted service # 17065212) at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. At that time, he was said to be 5'6", 162 lbs. He completed flight training and was taught to fly the P-51. He was sent overseas and flew in support of the 1st Commando Group, Fighter Section, 10th Air Force. His aircraft was downed and he was captured by the Japanese and placed in the POW Rangoon Cantonment, last seen there 19 May 1944. He died in the prison on 16 July 1944. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart. Hs remains were recovered from the Rangoon Cantonment cemetery by the Graves Regstration team.
The Missing Aircrew report says: Flying his assigned P-51B, Tail # 43-6872, he departed Hailakandi on a reconnaisance flight to return to Hailakandi on 15 May, 1944 and was last contacted by radio at 0730 hours five miles west of Kawlin. He was believed to have been shot down by enemy anti-aircraft. The P-51B was armed with four .50 caliber machine guns. He parachuted.
A yearbook for East High School in 1936 lists him in the H.S. football team, the Canaries. The 1940 census for Des Moines, Iowa, lists him as a son, age 20, of Della Gilhousen with a sister, Betty Gilhousen, age 18. An Iowa WW II Service Compensation form states that the family lived at 3115 Wright St., Des Moines, Iowa. He was survived by his parents and two sisters.
The Des Moines Tribune published a picture and article on 10 November 1942, stating that William R. Gilhousen was commissioned as a 2nd.Lt and received his wings at Moore Field, Mission, Texas. His sisters attended his ceremony.
The Des Moines Register published an article on 28 May 1943, stating that Lieut. Gilhousen had been home on furlough after a year in service and would then report to the Orlando, Florida, air base.
The Des Moines Register, 24 June 1944, reported Capt. Gilhousen on a missing list over Burma since 19 May 1944. It reported him as a pursuit pilot.
The Des Moines Tribune, 7 August 1945, reported Capt. Gilhousen as missing in action more than a year ago, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leafe Cluster and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. The awards were presented to his father, L.E. Gilhousen at Rochester, New York.
The Des Moines Tribune, 1 September 1944, had an article: "W. R. Gilhousen Died in Jap Camp," Capt. William R. Gilhousen, 25, died July 16, 1944, in a Japanese prison camp in Burma, the War Department informed his parents. Capt. Gihousen, P-51 pursuit pilot, was reported missing in action over Burma May 19 1944. ... A graduate of East H.S., he attended Drake University and was a draftsman here ... He went overseas October 29, 1943. He was a member of the Elks Club.
The family published memoriams to him. In the Des Moines Register, 17 July 1946: "Capt. William R. Gilhousen - His bright blue eyes and cheerful face, Are so pleasant to recall, He had a loving word for each, And dies beloved by all. Mother and Sister. The Des Moines Register, 16 July 1946: In Memoriams - IN MEMORY of Capt. Wm. R. Gilhousen who died July 16, 1944. You went, it seems but yesterday. And now by crosses row on row. You linger where the poppies grow. Not dead, but just away. Mother and sister.