Jesse W. Gonnam with his P-47
Jesse W. Gonnam with his crew chief and unidentified man to left.
Jesse W. Gonnam's P-47 "Gwen" with ground crew
Christian Diepedalle drawing of Jesse Gonnam's plane "Gwen"
Memorial plaque designed by Christian Dieppedalle to commemorate the Battle of Orleans Jan 7, 1944.
Christian Dieppedalle combat drawing of Jesse Gonnam in the Battle of Orleans Jan 7, 1944
Official report filed by Jesse Gonnam describing events of Jan 7, 1944.
Article by Virginia Irwin, writing for the American Red Cross, with photographs of the 353rd Fighter Group. Irwin was on a leave of absence from her paper, the St Louis Post-Dispatch, but this is one of the articles she sent back whilst otherwise occupied on Red Cross duties. The P-47 in the lower of the pictures is 42-76394, marked as the aircraft flown by Jesse Gonnam. Although the article is dated 21 May 1944, the photograph must have been taken at least a month earlier as Gonnam's P-47 was shot down on 23 April.
Jesse W Gonnam enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and graduated as a fighter pilot.
In October of 1942 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant at Foster Field in Victoria, TX. While there he married Gwendolyn Walker, a fellow graduate from Mazon Township High School.
He was stationed in England with the 352nd Fighter Squadron of the 353rd Fighter Group, and flew P-47s over the European Continent. On 7 January 1944, he shot down three Fw190s. For a description of this mission see: https://353rdfightergroup.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/mission63-january-7-1...
On 23 April 1944 he was shot down in P-47 #42-76394 over Achmer, Germany. He was taken as a Prisoner of War and held in Stalag Luft III.
His nephew remembers:
'Jesse was like a lot of his generation; he did not talk about his war experiences very much. My father and he farmed together in Grundy County Illinois and I worked with him a lot without him ever telling me much about what he experienced.'
'It appears that during the war he was considered an Ace and was listed as one in a number of press releases. According to a librarian at the 8th AF Museum in Pooler, Ga after the war the USAF changed a number of records so that all pilots and groups were credited in the same way. Probable’s and shared kills were no longer accepted.'
'It was unfortunate he was shot down so early as he was one of the more accomplished pilots in the early part of the war. This was about the time the mission for the P-47 groups was changed from bomber escort to air-to-ground assault. He was shot down strafing a canal and airfield near Achmer. The change in mission did not do him much good.'
Units served with
The 353rd Fighter Group was assigned to the Eighth Air Force on 7 June 1943. The group flew P-47 Thunderbolts, and from October 1944, P-51 Mustangs, as escorts for bombing missions across occupied Europe and to strafe targets on the ground. Tactical...
7 January 1944
A combined fighter force of 571 aircraft are despatched to provide escort for the bombers attacking at Ludwigshaven, Germany. Three elements of fighters are despatched.
Military site : airfield
Built during 1942-43 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, Metfield had three concrete runways, 39 pan plus 15 loop hardstandings, and two dispersed T2 hangars. It was first occupied by the 353rd Fighter Group, equipped with P-47s, from August 1943 to...
||Vienna Township, IL, USA
||18 February 1919
|Married Gwendolyn Walker
||Victoria, TX, USA
||22 August 1942
|Prisoner of War (POW)
||23 April 1944 – 6 June 1945
||Morris, IL 60450, USA
||5 August 2002