A World War II Story: Herbert Wilson of Bismarck


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The Greatest Generation, those who fought in World War II have stories many of us today can only imagine.

Doc Wilson was drafted into the Air Force in the 1940s. During his time fighting in WWII he took part in 31 bomb raids, before using the GI bill to finish medical school at Harvard University. 

We’re proud of North Dakota, that’s why we’re bringing you the story of this incredible story of a 97 year old veteran who has found a life long home in our great state. 

Herb ‘Doc’ Wilson shares, “You asked me what kind of doctor I was. Well, I tell them, ‘A horse doctor,’ and they look funny at me and say, ‘Oh, Veterinarian?’ And I say, ‘No, a horse-and-buggy doctor because I practiced in the old days with a horse-and-buggy, but I’m not quite that old.”

Herb Wilson’s 50-year career in medicine earned him the nickname that sticks with him today, Doc.

He is a World War II veteran, but when we met, Doc was dressed up in his father’s World War I uniform.

Doc adds, “I sort of felt patriotic enough to want to go into the service, but on the other hand, everyone was being drafted in those days.”

Wilson credits his patriotism to his father, who used to write a weekly column about the happenings in World War II.

Doc explains, “When the Atom Bomb was dropped, he got so excited about it, he stayed up all night for several nights, writing.”

But Doc says the best thing that came of his time overseas was meeting his wife. Lilian ‘Ozzie’ Osborne Wilson was a volunteer for the Air Force, stationed west of London.

She says, “My Superior Officer was horrified when any of his girls, as he called us, met Americans.”

Lilian is from a tiny island of the coast of the U.K., and says she could never have imagined all the things she would do in her life after following Doc to the states.

She adds, “It’s been a complete book from day one, page one.”

Doc says he’s not one to hold himself or anyone else up on a pedestal, even veterans.

He explains, “We’re not masters of our own fate. I think most people, they just take what comes along and go with the flow.”

Doc and Lilian Wilson have been living in their home in Bismarck since 1995. Lilian says the city gives them everything they need, and Doc says his military experience taught him the importance of valuing every life. 

The Wilsons spend their time now volunteering and enjoying their 6 children and 14 grand- and great-grand children.

Doc was wearing his father’s WWI uniform for the story, and believe it or not, he still has, and still can fit in his own WWII service uniform.

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