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Lt Richard Willis, 321stBG,447thBS, KIA 20 Oct. 1944
1944 | Italy
Richard L Willis ( 19092674) entered the Service of his Country from Los Angeles, Calif. He entered at Oxnard, Ca directly into the Army Air Corp as an Aviation Cadet on 2 June 1942 as a Private. Richard had completed one year of college, was working in production of industrian chemicals and was still single at enlistment.
After he was a Commissioned Pilot, he was then sent over to the Mediterranean Theatre where he was assigned to the 321st Bomb Group, the 447th Bomb Squadron, B-25 Mitchells for Combat Action. He arrived on 7 July, 1944 and was KIA over the Target on 20 Oct. 1944. (Galliate Road Bridge)
Richard was the Pilot in the #43-3403, The "INCENDIARY BLONDE" The bravery of the Pilot and Co-Pilot was exemplary as they held the ship long enough for all of the rest of the crew to get out. The Pilot Lt Willis and Co-Pilot Lt Harvey were KIA in their B-25 Ship.
The Bombardier Lt Edmund Harvey, not able to get out, was also KIA. (We have BOTH a RTD and a KIA, Lt. Harvey will be researched soon)
Of the Crew, Wentz, Mabbutt and Abbondanza survived. Wentz and Abbondanza were captured and made POW (RTD) but get away. . . and Mabbutt evaded and was returned to his unit 3 months later.
MORE to come from William's great-nephew Ryan Leverton. 5 Feb. 2013 :) Thank YOU Ryan!
Barbi Ennis Connolly PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com 321st Bomnb Group Historian and the "321st BG History Team"; John T Fitzgerald, Patti Johnson and Barbi Connolly.
Lt Richard L Willis, KIA 321st BG, 447th BS, B-25 20 Oct.'44
20 Oct. 1944 | Italy
Thursday, 6 July 1944
447th BS Mission Summary (Ops Order 422/mission 422) Group Mission # 422: 18 of our ships participated in a raid on Vado Viaduct, L-814290, with Lt. Muzinich, leading the mission. A splendid concentration of bombs in target area in spite of heavy flak, with most bombs towards south end of bridge. The bridge was cut in two places before our bombing. Another span was knocked out by our formation. All eighteen of our ships were holed by flak. Bombing accuracy – 41 %; Mission efficiency – 34 %.
A/C No. 43-27498 P Wakeley, Charles G., III, 2Lt CP Willis, Richard L., 2Lt N None B Spilko, Harold (NMI), 2Lt E Tollefson, Walter F. K., S/Sgt R Bilski, Walter J., T/Sgt G Veid, Joseph (NMI), Cpl F Simms, Cleo W., Cpl
Friday, 7 July 1944 447th BS War Diary: Captain John M. Hamilton has returned from rest camp, Rome, Italy. 1st Lt. Svend P. Olson is on DS at Laredo, Texas, (Flexible Gunnery School) per orders of July 3rd. The following officers and enlisted men have been assigned to this squadron per SO 106—57th Wing: 2nd Lt. Robert J. Burns, pilot; 2nd Lt. Richard L. Willis, co-pilot;
WAR-DIARY; 321st Bomb Group (Medium), 447th BS; 20 Oct. 1944
Friday, 20 October 1944
447th BS Mission Summary (Ops Order 594/mission 594) Group Mission # 594:
Eleven of our ships participated in a raid on the Galliate Road Bridge, in
Northern Italy, with Lt Rice leading our Squadron. Excellent concentration
of bombs on target, scoring direct hits on the center and west end knocking
two spans down in the center and one span at the west end. Strings also hit
both approaches. Bombing accuracy, 100%. Mission efficiency, 62%. 1 plane
failed to return. 1st Lt Richard L. Willis (MIA), 2nd Lt Edmund R. Harvey
(MIA), F/O James I. Wentz (MIA), S/Sgt Anthony J. Abbondanza (MIA), S/Sgt
William T. Mabbutt (MIA).
A/C No. 43-3403 “Incendiary Blonde” (MACR-9442 – hit by flak - crashed)
P Willis, Richard L., 1Lt – remained in plane – KIA – buried 21 Oct 44,
Piave Albignola Field 2, Row 9, Grave 6
CP Wentz, James I. “Jim”, F/O – MIA – POW returned
N NoneB Harvey, Edmund R., 2Lt – remained in plane – KIA – buried 21 Oct 44,
Piave Albignola Field 2, Row 9, Grave 7
E Mabbutt, William T., S/Sgt – MIA - evaded enemy - returned to USA
Intelligence Service, Army Service Forces, New York Port of Embarkation,
Brooklyn, New York on 16 Dec 44)
G Abbondanza, Anthony J., S/Sgt – MIA – POW returned
Abbondanza, Anthony J., S/Sgt., Aerial-Gunner, Enlistment Service # :
MISSING IN ACTION on 20 October 1944 on Bombing Mission on Galliate Road
Bridge in Northern Italy. Flak Damaged and Losing Altitude, Bail Orders Were
Given. Plane Crashed and Exploded. Abbondanza EVADED ENEMY CAPTURE~
RETURNED AND INTERROGATED on 30 November 1944~Three Crew Members Survived.
447th BS: Extracts from Missing Air Crew Report # 9442: Craft received flak in right wing near engine; left engine began throwing oil, and attempts to feather it failed. Loss of altitude was indicated and at 6,000’ bail-out orders were given. Abbondanza, who believes he was first to bail, left craft at 3500’ closely followed by Wentz; neither saw any other chutes while descending. Both members state none of the crew had been injured in the craft. Difficulty was encountered with flak-damaged escape hatches and only the rear hatch was successfully forced open. Abbondanza’s last view of the plane was at its point of fall into a dive; then an explosion was felt. Wreckage was never seen by sources.