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Mission Wildberg Railroad Station
22 February 1945 | Gestheim, Germay
The 17th Bomb Group, 432nd Bomb Squadron of the Twelfth Air Force was based at Dijon Airdrome, France. Dijon was located about 280 miles south of Paris, France. On 22 February 1945 the mission was a bombing raid on the railroad station at Wildberg, Germany. 1st Lt. Jack E. McKenzie and the crew of the B-26 Marauder 42-107792 (Battle Number 77) were hit by flak. In an eyewitness account from Missing Air Crew Report 12227, the pilot of another aircraft gave the following statement:
I, Lt. Andrew G. Smith, O-686602, pilot of B-26, Red 76, with the flight lead by Lt. McKenzie flying ship #42-107792 (Battle Number #77) did, on 22 February 1945, at about 13:30 hours observe the following:
Airplane #42-107792 (Battle Number #77) sustained a direct hit in the back of the left nacelle [engine pod] and a section of the left flap. The ship caught fire immediately. The ship remained under control, and one (1) man jumped from the left waist window through the flames that extended beyond the tail. The wheels were lowered, and shortly after the nose wheel come down, four (4) men jumped out of the nose wheel door. Just after the fourth man jumped form the nose wheel door, the plane went out of control and passed from my view.
The aircraft then crashed near Gestheim, Germany.
Lawrence J. Netti
Staff Sgt. Lawrence J. Netti (32873757) was the tail gunner. He was born on 25 February 1923 in New York City. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 25 March 1943 in New York City.
For his service during the events of 22 February 1945, Netti was awarded the Purple Heart, Air Medal and POW medal.
Netti died on 23 May 1997 in Brooklyn, NY and is buried in section 20, site 965 of the Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, NY.