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2 March 1945
The 97th Bomb Group, 340th and 341st Bomb Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was stationed at Amendola, a small 3600-foot airfield and hard-stands located near Foggia in southern Italy. The facilities were not very desirable and the airmen lived in tents.
1st Lt. William J. Gray, Jr. was the pilot of the 341st Bomb Squadron crew that was shot down on 2 March 1945. The mission that day with fair weather was to aerial bomb the city of Linz, Austria. At approximately 1325 over the target, the B-17 with serial number 44-6849 took a direct hit by flak in the number four engine. The aircraft was forced to leave the formation, smoke coming from the bomb bay. The tail section of aircraft came off causing the remaining plane to go into a spin. Shortly thereafter a secondary explosion occurred which caused the wings to come off the aircraft. The entire crew bailed out and six parachutes were seen to open. The aircraft crashed about 40 mile east of Linz. Missing Air Crew Report 12812 was filed after the plane failed to return to base. All crew members were captured and become POWs.
William J. Gray, Jr.
1st Lt. William J. Gray, Jr. (O-813502) was the pilot. He was born on 28 July 1920 in Waterbury, Connecticut the son of William J. Gray (1884-1964) and Mary M. Gray (1883-1952) of Waterbury, CT. His father was born in Scotland. He graduated from Mount Herman in Northfield, MA and later attended Weslyan University in Middleton, CT. In early 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and earned his wings in 1943. After sub patrol duty in the Carribean, he was sent to Italy to fly B-17s. On his 29th mission, he was shot down. He later received the Distinguished Flying Cross in recognation of his flying skills that occurred on that fateful day.
He married Shirley. Gray was with the Anaconda American Brass Company for 42, living in Connecticut, Wayne, PA, Orinda, CA and finally Rossmor, CA. He loved to play golf and was a board member of Sequoyah Country Club and Tahoe Golf Course.
Gray died at age 85 on 8 December 2005 in Walnut Creek, CA. His obituary stated in part: " My greatest achievement was marrying the right girl and our greatest success was rearing three children and seeing them leading productive lives."
Irvin Samuel Taylor
2nd Lt. Irvin Samuel Taylor (O717704) was the navigator. He was born in 1925 in Bristol, TN to Hyman and Lillie Taylor who were Latvian immigrants. After being born in Tennessee, his family moved to Bristol, VA in 1930.
After being liberated and returning to the States, Taylor graduated from the University of Tennesse College of Medicine in 1953. He earned his doctorate in ophtamology.
Dr. Taylor was an ophtamaologist in Memphis, TN.