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Jesse W Gonnam


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:

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

  • 353rd Fighter Group

    353rd Fighter Group

    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...

  • 352nd Fighter Squadron



Associated Place

  • Metfield

    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...

  • Stalag Luft III

    Other location


Event Location Date
Born Vienna Township, IL, USA 18 February 1919
Married Gwendolyn Walker Victoria, TX, USA 22 August 1942
Prisoner of War (POW) Germany 23 April 1944 – 6 June 1945
Died Morris, IL 60450, USA 5 August 2002


Date Contributor Update
08 January 2016 13:53:17 Lucy May Changes to biography, events and place associations

Date Contributor Update
08 January 2016 13:10:20 Lucy May Changes to events

Correspondence with Kerry Gonnam.
Also Gwendolyn's obituary:

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2015 15:31:07 kgonnam Changes to media associations

Private Collection: Kerry Gonnam

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2015 15:29:29 kgonnam Changes to awards

Jesse Gonnam Obituary. Morris Daily Herald. Morris, Ill 8/6/2002

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2015 14:42:55 kgonnam Changes to highest rank

Jesse Gonnam Obituary . Morris Daily Herald, Morris, Illinois. Aug 6, 2002

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:15:15 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 4315 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list