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Birthdate & Date of Loss

Date of birth: 1919
Date of death: June 21, 1945
Age: ~25

Lucky Bag

1941 Willson LB.jpg

From the 1941 Lucky Bag:


Long Beach, Calif.

As a Navy Junior Spider spent his childhood on the move. He loves to remember playing truant from visits to the Louvre in Paris by inveigling his governess to take him skating instead. As a Navy Junior, too, he acquired early lessons from Spike Webb that made Spider Willson a famous name in plebe boxing.

Perfection in every endeavor is Russell's goal, be it writing French, speaking before the Quarterdeck Society, or playing tennis. He even had the plebes at his table in the mess hall ask him questions in order to expand his already extensive circle of knowledge. The lights that often burned in his room before reveille marked him not as a "cut- throat," but as a man who devoted his study periods to extra-curricular activities and yet wore stars for four years through extra effort and application.

Boxing 4, 3, 1, bNAt ; Tennis 4, 3, T41T; Masqueraders 2; The Log 4, 3, 2, 1, Sports Editor 1; N. A. C. A. Council 2, 1; French Club 4, 3, 2, 1, Vice President 1; Company Pistol 2, 1; Battalion Track 2; Company Representative 3; Star 4, 3, 2; Quarterdeck Society 2, 1, Vice President 1.

The Class of 1941 was the first of the wartime-accelerated classes, graduating in February 1941.


From Find A Grave:

Naval Lt. Russell Willson, Jr., son of Vice Admiral Russell Willson, the former superintendent of the Naval Academy, was killed in an aircraft crash at Green Cove Springs, Florida. Lt. Willson, who was a native of Washington, was a February, 1941 graduate of Annapolis.

He had served on vessels in the Pacific and Atlantic prior to entering Naval Aviation in February, 1944. Lt. Willson was an instructor in combat training at Lee Field in Florida at the time of his death.

He is buried in the Naval Academy Cemetery, next to his parents, who both survived him (along with two sisters.)


His father, Russel Sr., retired as a Vice Admiral after serving as chief of staff to Admiral King during World War II. He had been awarded the Navy Cross during World War I for his work as a cryptologist.

Class Navigation

Class of 1941
Russel is one of 59 members of the Class of 1941 in Memorial Hall.
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