A Heroe’s Tribute – Colonel Jack Gellman
Our friends at Orange County Chabad in Chester shared the story of Chana Gellman Burston’s grandfather, Jack Gellman, a very decorated American hero.
Reflecting over the Memorial Day weekend on the courage, heroism and sacrifice so many made for our freedom, Chana offered the following story, with great pride, about her grandfather.
My grandfather, Jack E Gellman, was a leading Navigator is World War ll.
Horrified over what the Nazis were doing in Europe, he entered the newly formed Army Air Forces at the beginning of World War II. As a navigator for B-25 bombers, he flew 65 combat missions over North Africa and Italy, more than any other officer in the 8th Air Force. He was shot down twice in combat and later was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Silver Star and other medals.
On a mission over Italy in 1943, my grandfather rigged up an emergency bombsight with a pencil and a piece of cord, on his way to a successful bombing mission. He was shot down twice in combat. On another occasion, he rescued several fellow crew members from a burning aircraft. He left the Army Air Forces as a colonel at the end of the war.
When he arrived home after the war, he met his first born son- for the first time, at 18 months old.
More about his life: After his parents lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929, a young Gellman put himself through college and law school working two and sometimes three jobs while putting himself through Niagara University and the University of Buffalo Law School. Gellman later received an honorary doctorate from Niagara University. Then in the 1930s, flashing the fervor he later would demonstrate in World War II, Gellman once broke up a pro-Nazi rally in New York City when he marched up to the podium and knocked out the rally’s main speaker.
After retiring from the service he became Disrict Attorney in Niagara County, and a developer of several shopping centers as Chairman of Conbow Corp. (which developed 60 bowling centers in the United States and Europe). Jack Gellman, died at the age of 85, Nov. 23, 1999 after a short illness
Caption 1 – The distinguished Flying Cross, one of several awards for heroic actions Colonel Gellman was given for bombing the bridges in Perugia, Italy thereby cutting off a major Nazi supply line.
Caption 2 – Colonel Jack Gellman
Caption 3 – Distinguished Flying Cross Award