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Boaz’s Dalton served on the ‘Ole Kickapoo’ as a gunner
Dalton tombstone
THIS HEADSTONE, located in the Basswood Cemetery, honors the service of Staff Sergeant Malcolm Clay Dalton, who gave his life serving his country in ‘Operation Tidal Wave’ in Romania during WW II. - photo by CHARLEY PREUSSER

My maternal grandmother, Mary Sale Kolar, was the oldest of 11 children. More will be told about three of grandma’s siblings. She and my grandfather, Frank J. Kolar, raised six children on a farm near Muscoda. Among the six, three served in the military during WWII.  Son Royce served in the Army in the European Theater, and daughters Janice and Genevieve served stateside in the Navy. This story is not about their service. It is about other family members who served in the US Armed Forces. These servicemen were not fortunate enough to survive the perils of war and military service. Although I did not know them, remembering and honoring them and others who have died during their service is how Memorial Day should be observed.

BOAZ - Malcolm Clay Dalton was born in 1922. His mother Kathleen (Kitty) Dalton was my grandmother’s sister.

Staff Sergeant Dalton of Boaz was a Waist Gunner on a B-24, nicknamed Ole’ Kickapoo in the Ninth Air Force. He was killed in Operation Tidal Wave, a raid on the Nazi held Ploesti Oil Refineries in Campina, Romania.  

As his plane piloted by Lieutenant Lloyd Hughes approached its target it took several hits from ground fire. The aircraft began losing fuel and Lieutenant Hughes considered forcing a landing in a nearby grain field.  Instead, he flew into a wall of fire at about 30 feet and dropped his bomb with precision. 

As he attempted to pull up and then attempt a landing the left wing flew off and the plane cartwheeled to the ground. Of the ten men aboard, Hughes and five others were killed, two died of wounds and two survivors were taken as Prisoners of War. 

Lt Hughes was among five airmen in this mission to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Three including Hughes would receive the award posthumously.  

Dalton was honored with a Distinguished Service Cross. In all, 54 aircraft and 660 crewmen were lost in Operation Tidal Wave making it one of the costliest missions in the history of the Army Air Force.

Staff Sergeant Dalton was buried in a mass grave with four other crewmates at the Fort McPherson National Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska.  His name appears on a family grave marker at the Basswood Cemetery in Richland County, Wisconsin.