Death in Wartime China: A Daughter’s Discovery


Judy Goodman Ikels, a native Texan and graduate of the University of Texas who majored in English and Spanish, completed a twenty-eight-year civil service career with the Department of State in 2018. She served alongside her late husband, Larry Ikels, in his thirty-one-year career as a foreign service officer with the US Information Agency posted in El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, and Greece.


On June 10, 1944, a B-24 Liberator bomber loses its engines following a raid on Japanese forces. The pilot, 2nd Lt. William H. Wallace Jr., sacrifices himself to save the lives of his seven crew members. He leaves behind a wife and an unborn daughter, Judy.

Seventy-one years later, Judy receives an email from a stranger who is working on a memorial project for World War II soldiers who served in China. Beyond reading old newspaper accounts and quiet family conversations, Judy has never fully explored what happened to her birth father, but the stranger’s questions kindle a deep desire to learn more.

Death in Wartime China: A Daughter’s Discovery weaves together Bill Wallace’s odyssey as an airman with his daughter’s journey of reconnection. By turns moving and thought-provoking, Judy’s story paints a picture of quiet heroism, friendship that spans oceans, and love that survives death.


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