Aircraft B-24H with serial number 42-52269 departed from Grottaglie and was on a combat mission to Mestre, Italy.

Statement from James C. Flower:
As we left the target, the ship, Aircraft 42-52269, which was piloted by Lt. John L. Bell, began to lose altitude. When we lost the fighters our plane, which was piloted by Lt. Wilmer E. Goad, left the formation and followed Lt. Bell’s plane. First #1 engine was feathered and then #2. I could see holes in the wings. When we were over the Adriatic Sea, about thirty or forty minutes after the target, the men began throwing out guns, ammunition, and other heavy objects. The plane started to head back to the Italian coast. One man chutes out from the Bombay and I saw a dark object, which I connot identify, fly off him and follow him down. I did not actually see the plane hit the water, but I did see a splash directly below where I last saw the plane.

Crew members
Pilot, 2nd Lt John L. Bell
Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt James H. Brunger
Navigator, 2nd Lt Gerald E. Anderson
Bombardier, 2nd Lt William G. Grafigna
Engineer, S/Sgt Desire J. Burrell
Radio Operator, S/Sgt Leo H. Kowalewski
Assistant Engineer, Sgt Robert Merkur
Assistant Radio Operator, Sgt Walter J. Schulze
Gunner, Sgt Edward Kesele
Gunner, Sgt Curtis E. Whitson

  • Rank: Sergeant
  • Date of birth:
  • 13 July 1924
  • Date of death: 7 April 1944
  • County: Roane
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bomber Group, Heavy
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart, Air Medal
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Willard Park Cemetery, Harriman, Roane County, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XVII, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Curtis E. Whitson

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