RUSSELL WILLSON, JR., LT, USN

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Russell Willson, Jr. '41

Date of birth: July 12, 1919

Date of death: June 21, 1945

Age: 25

Lucky Bag

From the 1941 Lucky Bag:

1941 Willson LB.jpg

RUSSELL WILLSON, JR.

Long Beach, California

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.

1941 Willson LB.jpg

RUSSELL WILLSON, JR.

Long Beach, California

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.

Loss

From Find A Grave:

Lt Russell Willson, Jr, USN, son of Vice Adm Russell Willson & Eunice Westcott Willson, was killed in an aircraft crash at Green Cove Springs, Florida, while serving as an air combat instructor at Lee Field. Lt Willson was a native of Washington, DC, and a February, 1941 graduate of Annapolis. After graduation, he served aboard the light cruiser USS Savannah (CL-42) in the Pacific, the South Atlantic & at Casablanca, followed by service aboard the USS Stembel (DD-644). In 1944, he entered naval aviation.

On December 5, 1942, he married Miss Jacoba “Coby” Johanna Meijer Ranneft, a daughter of Rear Adm Johan Everhard Meijer Ranneft, who was naval attache at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, DC, and of Cornelia Adrianna Meijer Ranneft. The marriage took place at St John's Episcopal Church with the Rev Dr C. Leslie Glenn officiating. Russ' brother-in-laws, Lt Cmdr Robert Henry Rice & Theodoor Seth Meijer Ranneft, of the Dutch army, served as ushers while his father served as his best man.

In addition to his wife, he was survived by his parents & two sisters, Mary Westcott Willson Cunningham and Eunice Russell Willson Rice.

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

Photographs

Other

His father, Russell 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.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

April 1941
Ensign, USS Savannah


Class of 1941

Russell is one of 60 members of the Class of 1941 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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