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Mission 357 to Lobau oil refinery
7 February 1945 | Lake Balaton, Hungary
The 2nd Bomb Group, 429th 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 airmen lived in tents.
Mission 357 for the 429th Bomb Squadron was scheduled for 7 February 1945 from Amendola. The day was hazy as the B-17s took off for a bombing run to the Lobau oil refinery near Vienna, Austria. 1st Lt. Dale E. Gold was the pilot of the crew of “Lucky 7”, a B-17G with aircraft serial number 44-6682. The “Lucky 7” crew was in the number three position in the second squadron and flying at an altitude of 29,000 feet. Over the target area at about 1418 hours, the aircraft was hit by flak on the underside of its left wing. The aircraft lost both engines and was thrown into a steep right bank. An eyewitness from another aircraft described the events: The pilot of the plane immediately attempted to correct this and the plane went into a steep bank to the left and in doing so the plane went into a skid and passed underneath the tail of our plane, jus avoiding a collision. I watched the plane for the next two or three minutes and he continued on out – in his skid – losing altitude quite rapidly and then he disappeared into a cloud.
All crew members were able to bail out of the aircraft. The left waist gunner’s chute failed to open and he was killed as he hit the ground. The other nine crew members including Kaszak were captured by a Hungarian captain and they later became POWs. The aircraft crashed near Lake Balaton, Hungary. When the crew did not return, Missing Air Crew Report 12068 was filed and an investigation was begun.
Louis D. Kaszak
Tech Sgt. Louis D. Kaszak (16138903), on his twentieth mission, was the engineer and top turret gunner. He was born on 8 August 1921 in Chicago, IL. He attended high school for two years and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 14 December 1942 in Chicago, IL. He later resided on 153rd Street in Calumet City, IL where he passed away in January 1987.