Gilson, James Hamilton, Jr., LTC

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
AAF 1063-Bombardment Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Aviation (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1943-1945, AAF 1093, USAAF 15th Army Air Force
Service Years
1940 - 1945


Lieutenant Colonel

Two Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SFC Ken Logue-Deceased to remember Gilson, James Hamilton, Jr., LTC.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Apr 10, 1945
Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash - Land
WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Sicily Campaign (1943)/The Battle of Troina
Location of Interment
American Cemetery - Florence, Italy
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Plot: A Row: 3 Grave: 13

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  1945, World War II Fallen [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

AAF Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
USAAF 15th Army Air Force
  1943-1945, AAF 1093, USAAF 15th Army Air Force
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
  1945-1945 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
 Colleges Attended 
Colgate University
  1935-1939, Colgate University
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Lt. Col. James Gilson enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Syracuse, New York ion 9 September 1940.  He had graduated from Colgate University in 1939, with home of record listed as Rochester, New York.

In the ETO, he was a squadron commander and B-24 pilot.  His crew and aircraft were lost over Italy, the photos of which became famous in their tragedy and loss.

B-24L (#44-49710), Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) #13711

LTC James H. Gilson's B-24L (#44-49710), “Black Nan "

"He joined the service in September 1940 as an air cadet and received his wings at Barksdale Field in Shreveport in April 1941. He was an instructor at Turner Field in Albany, Georgia. after which he made Captain. He was then assigned to the staff of the Commander of the 559th Squadron at navigation school at Selma Field in Monroe, Louisiana. where he was promoted to Major August 18, 1943.

He married Jean Tait April 26, 1941, they had a son and moved to Wyoming, Ohio.

After three years in the States, his wish came true in July 1944 and he became a B-24 pilot and Squadron Commander of the 779th Bombardment Squadron, 464th Bombardment Group, 15th Army Air Force at Pantanella Air Base, Italy.

Piloting his B-24L Liberator #44-49710 ‘Stevenovich II' (named after his son), he was awarded the Air Medal in 1944 for having knocked three enemy planes out of the sky over Blechhammer, Germany. "It was one of the roughest missions our group has ever flown. Enemy fighters? There were 40ME 109s after our box alone. I saw three of our bombers go down, but the boys on my ship got three of the enemy. Our group knocked down 28 enemy planes that day".

He was then promoted to Lt. Colonel, based at Pantanella Air Base in Italy.

After leading formations in missions over Vienna, Belgrade and Budapest, he was killed April 10, 1945 on his 34th mission, one short of the required 35 missions. On that raid, 648 B-24s and B-17s, in support of British Eighth Army forces, hit artillery positions, machine gun nests and infantry defenses along the Santerno River in Italy. This effort represented the largest number of Fifteenth AF heavy bombers attacking targets in a single day. Right after releasing the bombs the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire on the left wing which caught fire and broke apart. The plane turned over and started tumbling. The radar operator was thrown clear and was able to parachute to the ground where he was taken prisoner. The other ten men aboard were killed."

Pilot - Lt. Col. James B. Gilson
Nav - 1Lt. Robert J. O’Leary
Bomb - Capt. George R.Wall
Eng/Gun - T/Sgt. Jerrold R. Ruben
Gun - S/Sgt. Robert C. Rogers
Gun - S/Sgt. Melvin Thomason
Co-Pilot - Capt. Charles H. Foote
Nav - Capt. Lacey P. Morton
Radar/Bom - 1Lt. Edward F.Walsh (Survived)
Radio/Gun - S/Sgt. Charles F. Montegut
Gun - S/Sgt. Norman S. Cope
Not Specified
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