15 February 1945 — Austria
The 463rd Bomb Group, with its four squadrons 772nd, 773rd, 774th, 775th Bomb Squadrons of the Fifteenth Air Force, was based at Celone Airfield, Italy. Celone airfield was a semi-permanent airfield located approximately 6 miles north of the Foggia Airfield complex and had a 6,000 foot pierced steel plated runway. B-17s of the 463rd Bombardment Group and Liberator Mk.VI's of 2 (SAAF) Wing (31 (SAAF) Sqn and 34 (SAAF) Sqn) were based at the airfield between 9 March 1944 and 25 September 1945. The group flew missions against railroad bridges, marshaling yards and airdromes in the Balkans.
15 February 1945 was mission 168 for the bomb group and the target this day was to be the supply depot at Vienna, Austria. 1st Lt. Kenneth V. Rohr and his crew of the B-17G aircraft 44-8253 were assigned to the mission. This was the first mission for this brand ne PFF pathfinder or radar navigation/bombing equipped aircraft. Lt. Rohr was flying in the B-Baker lead (high right in the formation) when another formation of bombers from the 483rd Bomb Group flew over above them on a converging angle of attack to the target. The higher formation of bombers began to release their bombs not realizing Lt. Rohr’s group was below them. Two strings of bombs dropped directly between the Able and Baker squadrons. One bomb struck Lt. Rohr’s ship and exploded with a flash. The plane began to burn and drop away from the formation. One eyewitness stated they were hit in the radio room and on the right wing with two separate bombs. Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier and tail gunner Farmer were all thrown from the aircraft. They parachuted safely to the ground. The remaining six crew members were killed.
When the crew failed to return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12491 was opened.