Gordon Ernest Ackley was the son of Ernest B. Ackley and Mable Gordon. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II in the 44th Bomb Group, 68th Bomb Squadron.
USAAF WORLD WAR II
Gunner S/Sgt. Gordon E. Ackley WIA
Hometown: Mankato Minnesota
Squadron: 68th 44th Bomb Group
Pilot 1st/Lt. Joseph D. Kessler
Target: Airframe Plant for Messerschmitts, Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Mission Date: 1-Oct-43
Serial Number: #41-24009
Aircraft Model B-24
Aircraft Name: MARGARET ANN
Exactly two months after Ploesti, our Group attacked this assembly plant and suffered many casualties. The official records reported that we had eight planes lost, but later it was learned that one crew had landed okay at Bari, Italy.
Note: William Altemus became a pilot. He was killed when his aircraft was shot down on 8 April 1944. Lanning Baker was part of that crew. He survived and was taken prisoner. John Nosal also went down on 8 April 1944 and was taken prisoner. He was with the Townsend crew. L. C. Baker recalls: “We were hit hard by both fighters and flak over the target area. Vic Lopez, who normally sat at his Equipment, stepped down into the bomb bay for some reason and by doing so escaped some of the flying pieces of metal from a shell that exploded in the radio compartment. A piece of something cut the back of my right flying boot but did not touch me. I was in the top turret at the time.
“We took a direct hit of flak between the right waist gun and the tail. The waist gunners, Ackley and Nosal were both badly wounded in the legs. The tail gunner, Bob Storovich, was hit in the spinal area by flak. “We came out of the battle with all four engines running, but #1 was smoking badly. With three wounded crewmen, no radio equipment, and the hydraulic system shot out, the pilot decided we should get down as quickly as possible. “We landed on a grass runway on a field near Bari, Italy – not too far from the front – manned by Canadians flying Spitfires. On our approach, we cranked down the flaps and the landing gear saving what hydraulic pressure we had left for the brakes. The Canadians fired flares indicating we should not try to land on such a short strip. With our radio out, we had no way of telling them our problem, so we just proceeded to land. “We used all the landing strip and then some. Much to the surprise of the Canadians, we did no damage to their strip, but we did tear up a wire fence and leave some deep ruts in a tomato field beyond. “We immediately got Ambulances for the wounded and they were taken to an American Field Hospital somewhere to the south of where we landed. The next day we went to the hospital to visit and determine the extent of their wounds. We were told that Gordon Ackley would have to be sent to the States for special surgery, no doubt, he would be discharged. I have never heard just what did happen to him. Johnny Nosal was to remain in a hospital for a couple of months. He returned to the squadron around Christmas time, 1943. “John finally went back to flying duty and was shot down on the same day I was – 8 April 1944. However, we were not on the same plane. He and I spent the rest of the war at Stalag 17B. Bobby Storovich was paralyzed from the waist down. A small piece of flak damaged his spinal column, causing the problem. We kept in touch until he died in the mid-1950s while living in California. “The Canadian Spitfire pilots shared what they had with us. They were housed in an old tobacco warehouse that served as a mess hall and sleeping quarters. After our evening meal, we were given stretchers with short legs on which to sleep. The one I was assigned had been occupied by a pilot that was shot down a few days before we arrived. “Along about dark, the Canadian pilot who had the cot next to me came in carrying a couple of packages. He introduced himself while undoing one of the packages. It turned out that each parcel contained a bottle of Canadian Club. These pilots routinely got one bottle per month. He had received two because the Squadron was short several pilots and by the luck of the draw, he had an extra one. He’d had a hard day and so had I so we made the situation more pleasant by consuming most of one bottle. I had a good night’s sleep but a terrible headache the next morning. “I returned his hospitality in part by giving him my fleece-lined flying suit along with the boots, one of which had been damaged by the flak. He was most grateful, because he said it was much better than anything he had. “We eventually were taken to an American Air Base where we were returned to England via Air Transport Command. Whatever happened to the B-24? As far as I know, it may be still sitting there.” (Editor’s note: No such luck; it was repaired and transferred to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
Lt. Kessler Crew
1st/Lt. Joseph D. Kessler Pilot
Fl/Of. William B. Altemus Co Pilot
2nd/Lt. Vangelo S. Safos Navigator
2nd/Lt. Harold Van Der Linde Bombardier
T/Sgt. Lanning C. Baker
T/Sgt. Victor A. Lopez Radio Op.
S/Sgt. Walter E. O'Laughan Gunner
S/Sgt. John A. Nosal Gunner
S/Sgt. Gordon E. Ackley
S/Sgt. Robert D. Storovich Gunner
Betty M Spencer Rush
GORDON ERNEST ACKLEY
S. SGT. 44 BOMB. GP. AAF.
WORLD WAR II
DFC. – AM.-PH.
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