25 February 1945 — Theresienfeld, Austria
Mission 178 to the marshalling yards at Linz, Austria took place on 25 February 1945. 1st Lt. Donald Albert Mateske (O-827024) was pilot for the B-17G with tale number 44-8729 with a crew of ten. They were to fly as Able No. 1 in the formation and an altitude of 26,000 feet. As they approached the target, anti-aircraft bursts were exploding all around. One engine was hit and had to be feathered. They were able to drop their bombs and continue with the formation to the rally point. After flak hit another engine, the pilot was forced to feather number three. While attempting to keep up with the formation, engine number 2 was lost. Around 1312, the pilot radioed the rest of his squadron to say that “we have three engines out and the navigator (Owens) was wounded slightly. Everything else is under control and we are heading for Russia.” With three engines out, the plane continued to loose altitude but it continued in level flight. They were flying parallel with a river below. At about five thousand feet, the pilot gave the order to bail out. All crewmen successfully parachuted to safety but were later captured. The aircraft crashed near Theresienfeld, Austria. When the Mateske crew did not return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12716 was filed with command.