AMES — An observance at Iowa State University will honor two former students who served and died in military service. One of the honorees is Robert Lynn Hodson, who was born in Eldon on Feb. 8, 1918. He died during World War II. His name is being engraved on the wall of the ISU Memorial Union’s Gold Star Hall, and his life will be remembered in a campus ceremony Friday.
Iowa State has been able to memorialize Hodson with help and materials from his extended family.
Hodson grew up on his parent’s farm, a mile south of the Eldon “Y” on Highway 98. He graduated from Agency High School in 1936 and attended Iowa State College for two years. Hodson trained as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Texas and at the Pan-American Navigation School in Miami. He advanced to the rank of first lieutenant on June 16, 1941. In December 1941, he was promoted to second lieutenant.
While living in Florida, Hodson met Evelyn Ruth Grant, a business school student. They were married in the summer of 1942 in the Highland Methodist Church. Shortly afterward, he was sent overseas.
Hodson was assigned to the 96th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force under Col. Archie Old, commanding officer for the 45th Combat Bombardment Wing (Heavy) based in Snetterton Heath, England. He was the navigator on a B-17 “Flying Fortress.”
Hodson’s B-17 crew was assigned to an air attack on a German ball bearing factory in Schweinfurt, The raid was devised as a daylight precision-bombing raid.
On Oct. 14, 1943, 291 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 60 B-24 Liberators took off for their mission. Although the 96th endured repeated fighter attacks for 90 minutes on the way to Schweinfurt, Col. Old’s aircraft evaded damage. The Fertile Myrtle moved toward its target unprotected on a dead reckoning course.