From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Wilt '00

Date of birth: August 26, 1978

Date of death: May 8, 2002

Age: 23

Lucky Bag

From the 2000 Lucky Bag:


From the O'Fallon, IL Memorial:

John Nelson Wilt was born August 26, 1978 in Longview, Texas, the son of Nelson and Ann (Pusack) Wilt. His father was a C-130 pilot in the U.S. Air Force. John graduated from O’Fallon Township High School in 1996. He played the tuba in the Marching and Concert bands, participated in the Model United Nations, was a class officer and a member of the football, track and speech teams. He loved reading and also loved running, competing in two marathons. He was an active member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in O’Fallon. In May 2000, he graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and was commissioned into the Marine Corps.

John was a student Naval Flight Officer and had been chosen for flight training in the F-18 Hornet. On May 8, 2002, however, during a training flight over the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, his T-39 Sabreliner was involved in a crash with another T-39. All seven people aboard the two planes were lost. John was survived by his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

He has a memorial.


The John Wilt Foundation raises funds to support the USO, Fischer House, and an annual $1,500 scholarship for an O'Fallon Township (IL) High School graduating senior.


From the Naval Academy Alumni Association's "In Memoriam" page:

Our son, John, possessed a great sense of humor, pursued his goals and dreams with great enthusiasm and passion, and was so proud to be a USNA graduate and a Marine serving his country. We miss him dearly. Nelson & Ann Wilt


The first five photographs are from his high school yearbook.

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

At high school, he was an Illinois State Scholar who received a Naval Academy appointment. Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Fine Arts Club, Chess Club, French Club, National Honor Society, History Team, Daily Announcer, Class officer, Band, Football (offensive guard.) Voted Most Likely to be a Guest on David Letterman.

He was a member of the high school's model United Nations and played a variety of instruments in the school band. He starred in annual talent shows.

From the Pensacola News Journal on May 16, 2002:

Ensign Duane Close had just met 2nd Lt. John Wilt in January, but the two became close friends during a road trip. Close's father was killed by a drunken driver while they were on the vacation, and Wilt consoled Close during the entire drive back to Pensacola.

After Wilt died in the T-39 crash, Close said he saw him again in a dream. He was standing before the gates of heaven.

"Standing at the gates were Jesus Christ and my father, and they said, 'Welcome home, son.'"

Related Articles

William Muscha '87 was also lost in this collision.

Memorial Hall Error

Travis Manion Foundation says that Wilt was posthumously promoted to 1LT; Memorial Hall has 2LT.

Class of 2000

John is one of 4 members of the Class of 2000 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.