Mark J Gilles

Military

Completed 30 missions between May 7, 1944 and September 3, 1944

As of 11th December 2021 written by his Friend Tim Troyer
Mark Gilles turned 102 on Dec 11, 2021 and is an amazing veteran & patriot. He is in good health & good spirits… and still has a squirrelly sense of humor. Miss June, his bride of 77 years, will be 96 this coming January. She is very sharp, very active, still drives really well, and loves her college football. They are still crazy about each other, and still live mostly independently in their retirement home they built 34 years ago on the outskirts of Raleigh, NC.
A farm boy from a tiny town in Wisconsin, Mark commanded 32 B-17 bombing missions in 1944 with the 412th Bomb Squadron of the 95th Bomb Group. The 95th was the only 8th Air Force bomb group to receive the Presidential Unit Citation three times.
Mark’s first two sorties were daylight missions over Berlin… then he and his crew flew on D-Day and D-Day +1. Mark even landed in Russia a couple of times for gas before heading back to Horham.
He has told me about his excellent crew… and for a very high majority of his missions, he had the same crew members. Mark flew numerous tail numbers during his 4 month deployment in England. One particular aircraft stands out… 42-38054, a B-17G titled “Holy Matrimony”. An interesting fact is that Mark and his crew flew this bird for 9 sorties in a row in a one month period. But then, roughly two months later, a brand new crew right out of training took Holy Matrimony up on their very first mission…. and didn’t make it back.
Mark has mentioned a number of times that he was good at what he did…. but in acknowledging the very high loss rate of 8th Air Force crews, he humbly exclaimed, “I was a lucky guy.” As one of the fortunate ones to survive & come home, he remained in the Army Air Corps/Air Force, married that little 18 year old blond he met at the Los Angeles Palladium right before he deployed to England, and started a family.
During the rest of his 22 year career, Mark piloted the B-29 “Superfortress” bomber in Guam for 2 1/2 years as well as the B-50D in Roswell, New Mexico. His final stop was Pease AFB, New Hampshire, in the B-47 “Stratojet” bomber as an instructor/evaluator pilot, including intercontinental nuclear alert during the Cuban missile crisis and service as squadron commander. He retired as a Lt. Colonel after turning down “full bird” to concentrate on his family… as the father of five great kids.
Coincidentally, Mark served another 22 year career in Bellevue, NE as a regional director for the United Services Life Insurance Co. After a great performance and a number of awards, he retired for good.

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

  • Unit Hierarchy: Division
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 95th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Co-Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Waist Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Berlin Bessie
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Big Casino
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 335th Bomb Squadron 336th Bomb Squadron 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Chicken Ship The Pickwickian King Salvo
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron 483rd Bomb Group 815th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Silver Slipper
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Hard Time A-Good-Bett Blues in the Reich
  • Unit: 95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron

Missions

Places

Revisions

Date23 Dec 2021 08:38:54
ContributorTim Troyer
Sources

Information directly from Lt Col Gilles, as well as his family members.

Date14 Dec 2021 07:09:20
ContributorTim Troyer
Sources

The 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation website ... specifically its. searchable database, Name, Mission, Crew, Aircraft

Date13 Dec 2021 22:55:15
ContributorRayWells
Sources

Changed Key Image and added a tribute from his Friend Tim Troyer

Date27 Sep 2014 18:19:39
ContributorAAM