Franklin Clark Nyswonger


Staff Sergeant Franklin Clark Nyswonger, flight engineer on Exterminator, was born February 23, 1922, the third of six children to Emory Edmund Nyswonger (May 18, 1895-July 4, 1963), a locomotive fireman, and Etta Marguerite Gowans (August 28, 1895-November 26, 1971), from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mrs. Nyswonger apparently never used her first name; documents either refer to her as Marguerite or Margaret. The parents eventually divorced with Marguerite being awarded custody of the children. In 1942 Emory married Laura McGinley (April 15, 1908-May 22, 1972).

Franklin was known as Clark in the family. He was a short and slight 5'3" and 115 pounds. He had completed four years of high school (i.e. grades nine through twelve) and, incongruously, his enlistment record says he was working as an actor when he joined up as a private in the Air Corps on Thursday, June 19, 1941 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That would have been immediately following high school graduation, which makes it seem Clark was anxious to get out of the house. Whether it was economic need or something else, this need to leave home followed with at least two of Clark’s siblings.

From census, birth and death records, and a family tree posted on I learned the names of Franklin’s siblings and some of their vital statistics.

Oldest was Clara Mae (April 7, 1918-June 23, 1998), who married James Stephan on November 5, 1938. They had two children. Jerome Clark (July 4, 1941-March 12, 1990) carried his uncle's name-a very common thing in that era to memorialize a relative who died during the war. Their first child was James Paul (September 14, 1939-April 11, 2005)In 1996, the widowed Clara Mae married Robert M. Stuart.

All I could find out about sister Frances was her birth around 1921 and her death in 2006.

I am grateful to Deb Roa for the above data. She contacted me via Facebook, May 18, 2022 to fill me in. Her father was James Paul Stephan. Deb is the only person from Clark Nyswonger's family I've ever made contact with which makes her note to me about her family very special. Thank you, Deb.

I was luckier with Clark’s sister, Helen Irene (January 7, 1923-August 1, 1998). A week before her nineteenth birthday, on December 31, 1941 she married Joseph Van Frachen (August 17, 1921-October 12, 2006). They had four children: Larry, Judith, Susan, and Peggy. But this information lead me nowhere.

Clark’s final sibling was Harold Richard (February 23, 1926-April 18, 1988). All I know of him is that he was married to Margaret Space.

Clark’s IDPF supplied a little more data but wasn’t really very useful in expanding my knowledge of what sort of fellow he had been. On November 9, 1944, Clark’s mother filed an "Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes" which was issued two days later at the Veterans Administration facility at Wood, Wisconsin.

A final bit of information from Clark’s IDPF was in a November 15, 1955 telegram sent to Mrs. Nyswonger. It was a cruel blow. "Due to the nature of the airplane crash and the condition of the remains it is impossible to identify remains of S/SGT Nyswonger from remains of one other individual in the crew. Remains of your late son and remains of the other crew member will be interred in one grave in Fort Snelling National Cemetery." Though her son had been found he was essentially buried as an unknown soldier with one other boy. The remains of both boys were escorted from Oakland, California by SFC Marion L. Solomon to the cemetery at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Interment in Grave 8439, Section C, was at 10 a.m. on November 28, 1955. A photograph of the headstone was sent to Mrs. Nyswonger on May 28, 1956 by the cemetery operations officer.

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