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Mission to Vienna central repair shops
13 February 1945 | Hungary
The 461st Bomb Group, 766th Bomb Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was based at Torretta, Italy. The air echelon moved to Torretta in February 1994 from North Africa. The 461st had fifty-one B-24H Liberators. The facilities at Torretta consisted on one large airdrome with over 100 “soft” hardstands, dirt taxiways and one gravel landing strip with a long stretch of mud holes on each end and a hump in the middle.
2nd Lt. Francis X. Fink and his B-24 crew were tasked with a bombing mission to the central repair shops at Vienna, Austria. Bad weather caused the cancellation of the mission for three days, but on 13 February 1945, Fink and his crew were able to begin Mission No. 173. The B-24L Liberator with serial number 44-49925 and the Fink crew were to be part of the Red Force of seventeen aircraft. During take-off, clouds were low and broken. Over the target area, smoke and clouds prevented visual bombing. Just before bombs away, Fink and his crew were flying in the number six position in “A” box when a burst of flak hit the left wing near the number one engine. Fire and smoke were streaming from number one engine and the aircraft went into a gentle left turn and a steep dive. All crew members were able to bail out. When the crew did not return base, Missing Air Crew Report 12489 was filed with bomb group headquarters. The aircraft crashed in Hungary.
Russell Joseph Battaglia
Staff Sgt. Russell Joseph Battaglia (32735829) was the nose turret gunner. He was born on 2 June 1924 in New York, son of Lena Battaglia. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 18 February 1943 in Rochester, NY. He lived in Point Lookout, Long Island, NY.
Battaglia died at age 88 on 23 February 2013 in Middle Village, NY. He was buried in the Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, NY.
Staff Sgt. Michael Drena (31049732) was the photographer. He was born on 22 November 1915 in Hartford, CT, son of John and Nellie Drena. He graduated from high school. On 6 August 1941, Drena enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Hartford, CT. He married Delores B. Lark (1921-2008) in 1944 in Dade County, FL. He died on 5 April 2003 in Windsor, CT and is buried in the Windsor Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Windsor, CT.
Erin Richard Hennon
Sgt. Ervin Richard Hennon (35090007) was the top turret gunner. He was born on 3 December 1924 in Switz City, IN, son of Doyle and Nellie E. Hennon. After graduating from high school, he attended college for one year. On 1 February 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Indianapolis, IN. After the war, he was an engineer for Indiana Bell Telephone and moved to central Florida in 1984. Hennon died at age 68 on 4 June 1993 in Apopka, FL. He was a member of Sanlando United Methodist Church, the Masons, Rolling Hills Golf Club and Telephone Pioneers of America.
Emanuel Nicholas Mougianis
Staff Sgt. Emanuel Nicholas Mougianis (13086773) was the left waist gunner. He was born on 18 September 1918 in Farrell, PA, son of Nicholas E. and Lamprine Mougianis, immigrants from Greece. He was later married to Helen T.
Mougianis died on 14 October 1991 and is buried in section B, lot 119 of the Lakeview Cemetery, Brockport, NY.
Edward Donald Schiffbauer
Staff Sgt. Edward Donald Schiffbauer (150194540) was the ball turret gunner. He was born in 1915 in Pennsylvania to Charles and Roxie May (Prince) Schiffbauer. In 1930, the family lived in Akron, OH. Schiffbauer attended high school for three years and on 3 June 1941 enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Fort Hayes in Columbus, OH. He was married to Josephine M. After he was liberated, Schiffbauer returned home to the states on 3 June 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Monticello, a liberty ship. Schiffbauer died on 7 June 1971 in Akron, OH and was buried in Greenlawn Memorial Park.
Lloyd Olden Spencer, Jr.
Staff Sgt. Lloyd Olden Spencer, Jr. (O-37701960) was the tail gunner. He was born on 28 December 1924 in Colorado, son of Lloyd O. and Nellie J. Spencer of Trinidad, CO. He attended high school for three years and on 23 June 1943 enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Denver, CO. He was later married to Virginia L. (1940-1997).
Spencer died on 3 February 1994 and is buried in section F, row 12, site 1 of the Ft. Lyon National Cemetery, Ft. Lyon, CO.