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John "Jack" Windler
2009 | Chicago, Ill.
John H. Windler (1919 – 2009)
321st Bomb Group - 12th Air Force in “the Fighting” 447th Bomb Squad
John (Jack) was born in 1919, the last of 4 children, in Chicago, Il, to Robert and Amy (Zender) Windler. His mother’s family being early settler’s to ”Ridgeville” now West Ridge area in Chicago, were farmers turned greenhouse flower growers. His father, a 3rd generation florist from St Louis, had taken over some of the family greenhouses. Jack raised and raced pigeons from the home in his youth to his graduation from Loyola Acad. in 1937. After 2 years of college Loyola U, he got a job as an accounting clerk at a manufacturing factory until his country called him to service.
He graduated from Midland Air Force Base, TX in May of 1942,and called to active duty Nov. 1942. He arrived in Africa May of 1943 where he trained until he was assigned to 447th in Jan 1944. I found a photo of a bomb drop at Genzano Junction Italy, dated January 30th, 2 weeks after his arrival, even though that day was logged as poor results. He went on to a very successful record in his target accuracy flying with Lt Bounds and Maj. Sampson as pilots. (Feb 2, 44) He bombed Monte Cassino (March 15, 44) and his witnessing of Mt Vesuvius eruption and the events surrounding the bombing of Italian Viaduct as noted in Special Accounts of the 447th War Diary, May 28, 1944. Receiving an air medal on June 6th, 1944 and promotion to Capt. In July ’44 serving until his transfer out of squadron for rotation back to the US in Sept 1944, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross having fought in Battles of Sicily, Naples, Foggia, Rome-Arno, S France and Air Battle Europe. Back home he went on the radio in Chicago to help with the sale of war bonds , with relief of active duty July 10, 1945.
After the war he got a job as an accountant with Wyeth Manufacturing, met and married Gloria Windler 1946, started a family and bought his own business in 1956, Diecrafters Inc. Living at the family residence where he was born they had 4 children, having dozens of competitive cousins in the area participating in weekly (kinda loud) bridge games, St. Henry’s bowling league and the Rod n Gun Club. A driven, successful businessman moved his family to Glenview, Il and expanded the company until his retirement in 1985 selling it to his son Robert J. Every winter found Jack and Gloria at their place in Acapulco Mex for vacation and he did travel to Italy with their church in 1991 and on a tour to Monte Cassino he had a full circle moment to reflect on the events back in 1944. He was able to share some of that with traveling soldiers from Europe, they happened to engage in conversation, a stroke of luck for them at this first- hand account.
He died peacefully on Feb 15, 2009 8 years after his wife of 54 years, leaving 3 surviving children, 6 grandchildren and a legacy of family, honesty and integrity.
( Written by his proud daughter Amy Windler) Placed by 321st BG Historian Barbi Ennis Connolly PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com