February 25, 1944 — From Italy over Austria flying to Germany
February 25th 1944 my Uncle Joe Dunn Freeland Jr and the crew were on a mission from southern Italy over Austria to bomb the Messerschmit plane factory in Germany.
The bomb group of around 176 planes was attacked by around 250 German fighter planes. Their B-17 Bomber of the 99th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force was attacked by 4 German fighters, attacking 2 at a time.
The pilot broke formation and did a near 360 degree turn but the fighters hit the plane to the extent it exploded knocking my Uncle Joe Jr, his friend Lonnie Denning & engineer Harris unconcious.
Joe Jr and Lonnie were injured before the explosion, Joe Jr was the belly ball turret gunner which was hit while fighting. Per the bombadier my uncle had shot down numerous fighters that day.
Sgt Harris came to just in time to save his life but he didnt have time to throw my uncle Joe Jr or Lonnie bot KIA approximately 12:10 PM on 02/25/1944.
That week was what the bomber pilots were calling Big Week, due to rumors something big was going to happen, 02/25/44 was the last day of big week.
Rickey A Freeland nephew of Joe D Freeland Jr