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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.

Service

People

  • Ralph Aldrich

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 95th Bomb Group

  • Hugh Boyd

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

  • Daniel Decker

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

  • Frank Dietz

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier | 95th Bomb Group

  • Robert Gavioli

    Military | Lieutenant | Lead Navigator | 95th Bomb Group

  • Solomon Gerritt

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

  • Joseph Harapat

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

  • Howard Hornik

    Military | Corporal | Waist Gunner; Ball Turret Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

  • Homer McClure

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 95th Bomb Group

  • Richard Pope

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 95th Bomb Group

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Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 3rd Air Division

    3rd Air Division

    Division
    In December 1944, the 3rd Bomb Division was redesginated the 3rd Air Division.

  • 13th Combat Bomb Wing
  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

  • 412th Bomb Squadron
  • Headquarters (13th Combat Bomb Wing)

Aircraft

  • 42-31675 'Berlin Bessie'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 6/12/43; Kearney 12/12/43; Romulus 17/12/43; Grenier 19/12/43; Presque Is 22/12/43; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-W] Horham 26/12/43; Missing in Action Ludwigshafen 27/9/44 with Benedict B Busse, rest unknown; one engine out, force landed...

  • 42-31887 'Big Casino'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 31/12/43; Kearney 15/1/44; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-K] Horham 15/2/44; 336BS [ET-K], transferred 335BS [OE-F] 21/10/44; 103m, Missing in Action Frankfurt 17/2/45 with Carlyle Schaad, Co-pilot: Theo Flora, Navigator: John Keeney,...

  • 42-31999 'Chicken Ship' 'The Pickwickian' 'King Salvo'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 14/1/44; Dalhart 28/1/44; Kearney 22/2/44; Grenier 25/2/44; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-X] Horham 27/2/44 CHICKEN SHIP aka PICKWICKIAN; 36m, Missing in Action Gdynia 6/8/44 with W. R. Kinney, crew unknown; force landed Russia; rep,...

  • 42-32066 'Silver Slipper'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 21/1/44; Gr Island 11/2/44; Presque Is 11/2/44; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-D] Horham 3/3/44; transferred 335BS (OE-D); 67m, with R.E. Squyres sustained battle damaged Stuttgart 16/12/44, ran into mud off end of runway on return, then...

  • 42-37882 'Hard Time' 'A-Good-Bett' 'Blues in the Reich'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 4/10/43; Gr Island 22/10/43; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-T] Horham 18/11/43; force landed Ghent, Bel. with H.C. Coffman 15/10/44; force landed A-70 Laon-Couvron, France with R.E. Chrystal (9 Returned to Duty) force landed B-53 Merville,...

  • 42-37898

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 7/10/43; Las Vegas 24/10/43; 3021 BU Las Vegas 8/10/43; with Harrison Dukes force landed base 5/9/44; 2126 BU Laredo 31/3/45; 4136 BU Tinker 26/8/45; 2126 BU Laredo 1/9/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in...

  • 42-38054 'Hamawa' aka 'Holy Matrimony'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26/11/43; Presque Is 23/12/43; Assigned 334BS/95BG [BG-V] Horham 30/12/43; 412BS [QW-V]; 45m, Missing in Action Politz 25/8/44 with Everett Perry, Co-pilot: Jim Daniels, Bombardier: Guiseppe Merlo, Flight engineer/top turret gunner:...

  • 42-97376 'Aunt Callie's Baby' 'She Fox' 'Lucky Lady'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/2/44; Kearney 10/3/44; Grenier 2/4/44; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-J] Horham 7/4/44 AUNT CALLIE'S BABY; on 5/9/44 with A.P. Salvia, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: J.S. Wood [wia]; detailed Merseburg 28/9/44 with J.C. Walter, (8...

  • 42-97797 'Full House'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 28/2/44; Kearney 18/3/44; Dow Fd 7/4/44; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-H] Horham 8/4/44; transferred 336BS, (ET–H); 49m. ...

  • 42-97856

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 16/3/44; Hunter 7/4/44; Dow Fd 29/4/44; Assigned 335BS/95BG [OE-W] Horham 1/5/44; 336BS [ET-R]; 18m, Missing in Action Munich 12/7/44 with Jim Redin, Co-pilot: Jim Ward, Navigator: Bob Meinke, Bombardier: Bill Hearne, Flight engineer...

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Missions

  • 342A

    7 May 1944

  • 344

    8 May 1944

  • 351

    11 May 1944

  • 355

    13 May 1944

  • 358

    19 May 1944

  • 373

    27 May 1944

  • 379

    29 May 1944
    Mission #2. The target was an aircraft assembly plant. Flak was exceedingly heavy. We were in the air 7-1/2 hours.

  • 380

    30 May 1944
    Mission #3. Same target as before. A piece of flak broke the pilots windshield. No-one hurt.

  • 382

    31 May 1944
    Bombed the marshaling yards. Heavy flak but no hits.

  • 384

    2 June 1944
    Operations on this day were specified for D minus 3 by the Overall Air Plan as modified by Headquarters A.E.A.F. All objectives were located in the Pas de Calais (Fortitude) area, the attacks having as their purpose deception of the enemy as to the...

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Associated Place

  • Horham

    Military site : airfield
    Horham airfield was planned and built for RAF use, but handed over to the Eighth Air Force and used initially by the 47th Bomb Group. When they joined the Twelfth Air Force in January 1943, it became home to the B-26 Marauders of the 323rd Bomb Group....

  • St Mary, Horham, Suffolk

    Other location

  • Red Feather Club Museum

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2021 08:38:54 Tim Troyer Changes to highest rank, role and biography
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
14 December 2021 07:09:20 Tim Troyer Changes to person associations, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
13 December 2021 22:55:15 RayWells Changes to biography
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:19:39 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / http://95thbg.org/95th_db_pages/left_formation_code/gethonoroll.php

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