Carl John Gielow was born on 16 April 1921, in LaSalle, Illinois, to Carl Louis and Rose Kierski Gielow. Carl’s parents had married the year before on 16 September 1920. Gielow Sr. was a teamster at Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company, the same job held by his father-in-law., John Kierski.
Three of Carl Gielow Jr.’s grandparents were immigrants from Germany, and one was from Poland. All had settled in the U.S. in the 1880s, and Carl most likely would have known all four of them. His paternal grandparent Carl Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Gielow died in 1928 when Carl was 6 while his paternal grandmother died in 1934 when he was 13. His maternal grandparents, John and Antoinette Wizian Kierski, both died in the 1950s.
Growing up, Carl only had one sibling—his sister Lois Jeanne Gielow who was born 20 May 1925. However, he had many cousins on both his mother’s and father’s sides. And during his childhood he lived at 1124 Tenth street in LaSalle near his grandmother, Frederika Gielow. One of his hobbies growing up was stamp collecting.
In the mid 1930s, Carl entered his freshman year at LaSalle-Peru Township High School. During his sophomore through senior years, he participated in swimming. He also played football his junior and senior year, and in 1939, his football team won the “Big Seven Title” with a record of six wins and no losses. While he was possibly celebrating his team’s victory and last year of high school, his thoughts seem to have also been on the war as he noted in his yearbook, his ambition was “to become a sailor.”
After graduating in 1940, Carl started a job working at Westclox—a local clock factory in Peru. He was working there when he registered for the draft on 16 February 1942 at age 20. Now two years out of high school he had grown to a height of six feet and weighed 180 pounds with green eyes and blonde hair. Possibly around this time, while working at Westclox, he met Leona Barnes, a young woman originally from Marshall county who had moved to the LaSalle-Peru area. They were married on 9 March 1943, at St. Hyacinth church in LaSalle. A couple months later, Carl enlisted in the Army near the end of May/early June of 1943, in Peoria, Illinois.
Once in the Army, he was determined to have the skills necessary to serve in the Air Forces and was sent for training in Amarillo, Texas, and later to the Nebraska air fields. He then moved to Louisiana where he was joined by his wife. He came down with the measles in February 1944 and was treated in the hospital. In August 1944 he deployed overseas and became part of the 385th Bomb Group in the 549th Bomb Squadron. At some point he was promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant, and on 17 September 1944, he flew his first mission as flight engineer in the position of top turret gunner of a B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft called Hit Parade, Jr. The pilot was Willis Kelley, and their target was in Arnheim. Carl would go on to fly four more missions with Kelley in different planes over the next several days bombing targets in Kassell , Karlsruhe, Bremen, and finally Ludwigshaven. During his fifth mission to Ludwigshaven flying the Sweet and Lovely, 43-38233, his plane was hit by enemy fire. The crew landed the B-17 in Belgium, and Carl was taken to the hospital. However, his injuries were too severe, and he died. All other crew members survived.
Carl left a 27-year-old wife and a daughter who was not yet a year old. According to a newspaper report at the time, his widow received the Purple Heart awarded to Sgt. Carl Gielow after his death. He would have also received the following medals: Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. SGT Carl Gielow was later buried in 1949 in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in LaSalle, Illinois.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
If you noticed anything erroneous in this profile or have additional information to contribute to it, please email email@example.com.
SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
You can also access this story at the following sites:
- 1900 U.S. Census, John Kierski, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, Charles Gielow, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, Carl Gielow, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, Robert Yarger, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Carl Gielow, Ancestry.
- Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947, Charles J. Gielow, Ancestry.
- Yearbook, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, 1940, p. 45 and 68, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1942, Gielow, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1942, Barnes, Ancestry.
- “Gielow-Barnes Marriage Announced,” Henry News Republican, 8 April 1943, p. 8, NewspaperArchive.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Carl John Gielow Jr., Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Carl J. Gielow Jr., Ancestry.
- U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, Carl J. Gielow, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954, Carl J. Gielow, Feb. 1944, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954, Carl J. Gielow, Sept. 1944, Ancestry.
- 385th Info and Database, Airman Database, Carl J. Gielow, Official Website of the 385th Bomb Group Association.
- “43-38233 B-17 Flying Fortress,” American Air Museum in Britain.
- “Purple Heart is Received by Mrs. Carl Gielow,” Henry News Republican, 22 February 1945, p. 6, NewspaperArchive.