In Memory of
Army Air Force Captain
Zane Elwood Carlson
Holmquist, South Dakota
Day County
December 22, 1921- November 4, 1944
Killed in Action in Italy

Zane Elwood Carlson

Zane (Bud) Elwood Carlson was born to Edwin and Zena (Paulson) Carlson on December 22, 1921, in Pierpont, South Dakota, at the home of his maternal grandparents.  He was the only son and had one younger sister, Lois.  Zane is survived by one aunt, Rachael Paulson Wittnebel, living in Nassau, MN, and many cousins on his motherís side.  Lois is deceased and Buddy had no nieces or nephews.

Zane grew up in Holmquist, SD, where the Carlson family owned a bank and a hardware store. He attended grade school near Holmquist and graduated from Webster High School in 1939.

He attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls for two years. While at Augustana, he took civilian flying lessons and received his civilian pilotís license. He then persuaded his parents to allow him to join the US Army Air Corps in the summer of 1942.

Zane took primary and basic training in California, and advanced fighter training at Luke Field, Arizona, where he received his Silver Wings.  He was transferred to Tallahassee, Florida, for advanced officer training.  He was assigned to the 346th Fighter Squadron for duty in North Africa, the Mediterranean, up through Sicily, Sardinia, and eventually up the boot of Italy. 

On November 4, 1944, he was flying out of Pisa, Italy, on a bombing mission in a P-47 Thunderbolt. After bombing missions, pilots would look for targets of opportunity on their way home. On his final mission, Capt. Carlson went down with his wingman to strafe a German truck convoy. On their first pass, they hit one truck and set it on fire, but on the second pass, Captain Zane Carlson was hit by a 20 mm. flak gun and was severely wounded. He tried to bail out, but was too low and his parachute didnít fully deploy. He was killed on impact on his motherís birthday, November 4, 1944.

After the war, his remains were returned to South Dakota and buried in the family plot in the New Sweden Cemetery north of Holmquist.

For his service to his country, Capt. Carlson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart.  He also received the coveted Presidential Citation for Meritorious Service.

On November 4, 2000, the Italians of the area and three former squadron members held a memorial ceremony and erected a bronze plaque set in concrete in a vineyard which was the exact spot in Italy where Capt. Carlson was killed. Plaques were also placed on the municipal buildings in two nearby villages to commemorate both Capt. Carlson and an Italian partisan named Donato Rivello, who died the same day. The Italian villages are Castlenuovo in Asti Province and Bergamasco in Allessandria Province.

Zane Elwood Carlson, headstone  Zane Elwood Carlson, headstone

This entry was respectfully submitted by Matt Gill, 11th grade Waubay High School, Waubay, South Dakota, March 22, 2002.  Information for this entry was provided by Robert F. Wittnebel, Nassau, MN, first cousin of Captain Zane Carlson