John Ackley

Posted Online: July 03, 2014, 5:54 pm
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John W. Ackley, 92, of Moline, died Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Rock Island.
Services are 10 a.m. Monday in the Celebration of Life Chapel at Trimble Funeral and Cremation Center, Moline. Burial is at Rock Island National Cemetery, where Moline American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders will present military honors. Visitation is 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Friendship Manor, 1209 21st Ave., Rock Island, or Quad City Animal Welfare Center, Milan.
John William Ackley was born May 8, 1922, in Athens, Ohio, to Florine (Smith) and
Autmer Ackley and grew up on the family dairy farm near Athens. After graduating from high school in 1939, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and served in eastern Oregon. He then enrolled in Athens Aviation Mechanics School and, after completing this training, was employed at Martin Bomber Co. in Baltimore, Md. Anxious to be more directly involved in the war, he volunteered for and was accepted by the Army Aviation Cadet Program and was called to active duty on Dec. 7, 1942. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant and received his pilot's wings at Williams Field near Phoenix, Ariz., in October 1943 and later was promoted to captain.
John flew 63 combat missions over Europe in the P-38 Lightning Fighter Bomber with the 474th Fighter Group in the 9th Air Force. He flew top cover during the invasion of Normandy on D-Day and was directly involved in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters. He and his wing mates were each awarded the Belgian Fourragere for stopping a squadron of German tanks that was advancing on a Belgian village.
He was hospitalized in Belgium in January 1945 and was returned to the United States in March 1945. He then returned to active duty but was again hospitalized at Fitzsimons General Hospital, Denver, Colo., where he met and married his nurse, Marion Adele Buss, on Feb. 21, 1947.
After the war, John attended Oklahoma A&M College and Ohio State University. After graduating from Ohio State with a degree in agricultural engineering, he was employed by Deere & Co. for 33 years, retiring in November 1984. He worked with the Deere Product Development Department for four years, the Planter Works Product Engineering Department for nine years, where he was responsible for initiating Deere's line of agricultural chemical application equipment, and then with Deere's European office in Heidelberg, Germany, for six years, where he was manager of product engineering coordination. He then returned to Deere & Co. Technical Center in Moline and was responsible for Deere's sponsored research until he retired. He was granted nine patents while with Deere & Co.
John was a fellow and 60-year member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, where he served as regional vice president of the national society, and as the president of the local chapter. While in Europe, he represented the ASABE with the International Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He served on the Industrial Professional Advisory Council at Penn State University for six years and also belonged to many other professional organizations.
John was a Paul Harris Fellow with the Moline Rotary Club, a member of the 474th Fighter Group Association WWII, the P-38 National Association, the Air Force Association, the Moline American Legion and the Military Officers Association. He was a lon time member of Short Hills Country Club. He loved gardening and reading, and he and his wife, Marion, traveled extensively.
John is survived by his wife, Marion; children and their spouses, Jean and Irwin Witzel, Phoenix, Ariz., Judy and Craig Miller, Moline, John II and Allyson Ackley, Moline, and Randy and Teresa Ackley, West Palm Beach, Fla.; five grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; one great-grandson; three step-great-grandchildren; and a sister and two brothers in Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters.
John's family invites friends to share stories and condolences and light a candle in his memory at


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