Harrison County

Capt. Calvin E. Gillespie

 

 

Missouri Valley Pilot Wins Silver Star for Gallantry 

Capt. Calvin E. Gillespie of Missouri Valley, B-25 bomber pilot wounded
at Wewak, talks with the hostess at the Santa Monica air forces redistribution center.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Although cut about the face and almost completely blinded by pieces of glass when machine gun fire shattered his windshield, Capt. Calvin E. Gillespie, B-25 bomber pilot from Missouri Valley, refused to turn back from his mission and successfully strafed a Jap airdrome.

Awarded the Silver Star for gallantry and the Purple Heart for wounds received during that raid, Capt. Gillespie has since been returned to his country. At army air forces redistribution station No. 3, Santa Monica, Calif., where his is awaiting reassignment, the captain today told of the action.

On Wewak Mission

“We were on a strafing mission over Wewak,” Gillespie said, “where about 80 to 90 Jap planes were parked along the runways. Coming in for the strafing run, the nose of our ship was riddled by enemy machine gun fire which completely smashed my windshield and spattered my face with the pieces.”

Bleeding profusely and hardly able to see, he stayed at his controls and, with the aid of the co-pilot, strafed the airdrome and returned to base.

“We were considering bailing out over New Guinea on the way back,” Gillespie said, “but the jungles were so dense it would have taken days for a searching party to find us. We stuck it out and made a safe landing.”

A veteran of 46 strafing and ship-bombing missions, the captain has participated in many of the savage air battles of the southwest Pacific which have made aviation history. A raid on Rabaul when dozens of Jap warships and transports were caught in the harbor, Gillespie calls his most memorable experience.

Movie Version

“It was a perfect Hollywood version of an air raid,” he said. “The harbor was full of ships, some burning and sinking and the others filling the air with flak and machine gun fire as they tried to beat off the American bombers. We got out of it with only a few flak holes.”

Son of Mrs. Lucinda Gillespie, 508 East Superior street, Missouri Valley, the captain graduated from Magnolia high school in 1937 and attended Western Union college for three years before entering the service in January, 1942.

His wife, Marcille Gillespie, lives at Topeka, Kan.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Wednesday, August 23, 1944, Page 10