WILLNER, EDWARD ALVIN, Second Lieutenant, # 0-671824, USAAF
On 27 November 1943, a flight of P-51A-10 Mustangs departed the 10th Air Force fighter base at RAMU at about 1305 hours. The fighters were from the 311th Fighter-Bomber Group, the 530th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. A P-51A-10 was piloted by 2ndLt Edward A. Willner. Their assignment was to provide a fighter cover and escort to a flight of numerous B-24J heavy bombers on a mission to bomb Rangoon. 2ndLt Willner was last sighted about ten miles west of Rangoon. The sighting was by 1stLt Allan D. DuBose, 0-663702. 1stLt DuBose stated that he was engaged in combat with enemy fighters at 9,000 feet about 10 miles west of Rangoon at 1305 hours, 27 November 1943, when he saw Lt. Willner’s ship going down in flames. A Zero fighter was following him at close range. Lt. Willner’s wing tanks were afire. I did not see Lt. Willner’s aircraft hit the ground as he was busily engaged with enemy fighters. He bailed out and was captured and imprisoned as a POW of the Japanese in Rangoon, Burma. He estimated that he bailed out about sixty miles west of Rangoon. The P-51A-10 fighter crashed in the Irriwady Delta area. While imprisoned he stated that P-51A-10 pilots/POWs 1stLt Robert Angel, Lt. Everitt E Briggs and 1stLt James M. Grey, all died of poor medical care for diseases. He was told that P-51A-10 pilot Lt. Robert L. Lockett was killed about 25 November 1943. Liberated from prison about 2 May 1945, he was released from active duty after medical care and return to the U.S. The release date was 21 January 1946.
He enlisted in the USAAF on 16 February 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. After completing training, he earned his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant. He was promoted to First Lieutenant before being released from the USAAF.
He was born 30 May 1920 in Minnesota to Charles R. Willner (1887-1947) and Ida Willner (1891-1980). Siblings included Charlotte L. Willlner (1923- ) (born in Iowa) and Jacob R. Willner (1925- ) (born in Illinois). The 1940 census showed them in Aurora, Kane County, Illinois. The 1930 census for Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, included Burton W. Willner (1916- ), sibling. His father immigrated in 1892 and was a naturalized U.S. citizen from Germany. His mother immigrated in 1896 and was a naturalized U.S. citizen from Russia. Together, they owned and operated a grocery store. His wife was Lillian (Greenblatt) Willner (1922-2000). In 1944, his wife lived at 2646 Tuxedo Ave., Detroit, Michigan, and registered him with the WW II Jewish Servicemen records. He died 8 July 1990 and is buried with his wife, Lillian G. Wilner (1922-2000), in the Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California.