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Max E. Dailey

Second Lieutenant Max E. Dailey, uncle of Charles City’s Bill Mead, will be buried 81 years after his death in WWII.

Max Eugene Dailey was born Dec. 15, 1921, in Cherokee, Iowa, to Merle and Helen (Lathrop) Dailey. After losing his mother to cancer when he was young, the family moved around Iowa, living at several different locations. Max attended school in Waterloo and graduated from high school in Des Moines.

Max E. Dailey
Max E. Dailey

After graduation, Max attended Iowa State Teachers College (UNI), where he was studying to become an art teacher. While at school, Max enlisted in the Army Air Corp, training to become a navigator on a B-24 Liberator. Max was a member of the 8th Army Air Force, 409th Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Group stationed near Benghazi, North Africa, where in early 1943 Max and his crewmates began training for a secret mission.

The city of Ploesti, Romania, 1200 miles to the north, and located in the heart of Europe’s largest oil deposits, was surrounded by many oil refineries. Oil supplies from these refineries were essential to the success of Hitler’s campaign. A decision was made to fly 177 planes to Ploesti from five Northern African airfields on Aug. 1, 1943, with the mission of destroying some of the key refineries. Max and 1,724 other airmen traveled 6 ½ hours to reach Ploesti. Flying at tree-top level the B-24s were an easy target, and Max, along with 224 others lost their lives that day.

Max’s family, his father, Merle W. Dailey, sisters Helen Dailey and Mildred (Dailey) Ambler, along with his fiancé, Geraldine James, learned of his death in October of 1943. They lived the remainder of their lives knowing very little of what happened to Max or where his remains were located. Max’s father accepted two posthumous awards: the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart.

In 2017 the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) received approval to disinter the “unknown” remains of the servicemen who lost their lives in the Ploesti mission. At that time Bill Mead was contacted by the DPAA for his DNA. Max’s remains were officially identified 80 years after his death in June of 2023.

Max was escorted into Charles City to Hauser Weishaar Funeral Home on Friday, June 7, 2024The Iowa Army National Guard and Patriot Guard Riders assisted with the escort.

The public is invited to a service to honor Max on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, beginning with a visitation at 9:30 a.m. at First Congregational Church, Charles City, followed by a service at 11 a.m. with Pastor John Tunnicliff officiating. After the service Max will be buried with full military honors at Riverton Cemetery, 2474 Midway Rd, Charles City, Iowa.

The funeral procession will be leaving First Congregational Church down North Jackson Street, to Clark Street, to Brantingham Street, to South Grand Avenue, to the Avenue of the Saints. The community is encouraged to show their support along the funeral procession route to honor Max as he is laid to rest 81 years after his death.

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