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19 December 1944 | Lake Balaton, Hungary
The 465th Bomb Group, 781st Bomb Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was based at Pantanella, Italy.
2nd Lt. James Winton Griffith and his crew were tasked with bombing mission 123 to the railroad yards at Maribor, Yugoslavia on 19 December 1944. At approximately 1325 hours, their B-24J Liberator with serial number 44-41106 suffered engine failure at 25,000 feet over Lake Balaton, Hungary. Struggling to keep the aircraft airborne, Griffith gave orders to bail out. Six crewmen were able to escape out the forward hatch before the plane crashed into Lake Balaton. Griffith and three others died in the crash. Two bodies, including Griffith’s washed ashore near a small Hungarian town and were subsequentially buried in a nearby church yard by the locals. In 1946, the bodies were returned to the United States for proper burial. The other two crew members are still listed as missing. Sgt. Carlson was wounded and spent several days in two different Hungarian hospitals before being turned over to German authorities. Carlson fondly remembers a local nurse who helped in his recovery and even kept a small photograph of her. Missing Air Crew Report 10690 was later filed.
Richard Oscar Carlson
Sgt. Richard Oscar Carlson (16188168) was the engineer and top turret gunner. He was born on 7 November 1925 in Chicago, IL, son of Carl and Anna Carlson. After attending high school for three years, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 1 October 1943 in Chicago, IL. He lives in Sarasota, FL.