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Conery John J.

John J. Conery
Staff Sergeant
Serial Number:
836th Bomber Squadron, 487th Bomber Group, Heavy
Date of Death:
New Jersey
Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Belgium
Air Medal, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

John J. Conery was born at Newark, Essex County, New Jersey on September 23, 1921. On his draft registration, his name was initially recorded as John Joseph Conery; but the middle name is lined out, and he signed his name John J. Conery. He was the twelfth of thirteen children (nine girls and four boys) of George Joseph Conery (3 Feb 1878 – 20 Dec 1932), who was born in New York; and Alice E. (Athley) Conery (1879 – 28 Dec 1950), who was born in New Jersey. His parents married in 1905. His father worked at several jobs, including shipping clerk (1910), mason in a shipyard (1920), and patrolman for a railway express company (1929–1930). His father died when John was ten years old.

In 1940 the family lived at 11 Third Street, Newark, New Jersey. He completed three years of high school, and registered for the draft at Newark on February 14, 1942. He was 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 165 pounds, and had brown eyes and brown hair. At that time he lived at home and worked for the Breeze Corporation in Newark, a manufacturer of aircraft electrical systems, aircraft manifolds, and electric motors. He worked as an electrician and was single when he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Newark, New Jersey on October 28, 1942.

He completed Army Air Forces aerial gunnery training, and was assigned as waist gunner on the heavy bomber crew of Lt Ira L. Ball, in the 836th Bomb Squadron, 487th Bomb Group, at Army Air Forces Station 137 near Lavenham, Suffolk, England. His unit was part of the 8th U.S. Army Air Force in Europe.

On December 24, 1944, the 8th Air Force launched mission #760, the largest aerial mission of the war, which involved more than 2000 heavy bombers. The mission was to bomb German airfields and supply lines, to stop the German offensive in the Ardennes known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 487th Bomb Group led the entire 8th Air Force on this mission. Lt Ball's crew flew B-17G 43-37569 in the number five position of the 487th Bomb Group's Low Squadron. The 487th Bomb Group's target was the airfield at Babenhausen, Germany, but the formation was attacked by German fighters before reaching the target. S/Sgt Conery and six of his crewmates were killed in action when their aircraft was shot down by German fighters south of Liege, Belgium. The aircraft broke up and most of the wreckage fell in the Ambleve River at Gouffre d'Aywaille, at about 50.4763°N, 5.6577°E. (Gouffre d'Aywaille is the gulf of the Ambleve River near Aywaille—a wider, deeper section of the river just west of Aywaille.) The tail section fell in a small stone quarry near the hamlet of Chambralles, just west of Septroux, Belgium. Two men survived.

S/Sgt Conery is now buried in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Hombourg, Belgium.

B-17G 43-37569 crew:
• Ball, Ira L – 1/Lt – Pilot – KIA
• Tomea Jr, Gordon R – 1/Lt – Copilot – KIA
• Sperber, Harold P – 1/Lt – Navigator – Safe
• Broom, John C – 1/Lt – Bombardier – Safe
• Parks, Warren H – T/Sgt – Engineer – KIA
• Lull, Robert H – T/Sgt – Radio Operator – KIA
• Gaudin Jr, Duffy J – S/Sgt – Ball Turret Gunner – KIA
• Conery, John J – S/Sgt – Waist gunner – KIA
• Becker, Cuno V – 1/Lt – Officer Tail Gunner – KIA

Source of information: Paul M. Webber,