The 484th Bomb Group of the Fifteenth Air Force was stationed at Torretto Airfield, Italy in the winter of 1945. Torretto was located on the Foggia plain in Southern Italy. The field was located approximately 8 miles from the town of Cerignola. The runway was constructed of compacted clay gravel with pierced steel planking at the touchdown points. The taxiways and hardstands were also compacted gravel. There were no hangers and the control tower was a temporary scaffold structure. Most of operational facilities were in tents. The crew also lived in tents with officers four to a tent and enlisted men six to a tent. The tent floors were dirt with no electricity or running water. Meals were taken in the mess tent, but airmen were required to provide their own mess kit and cutlery. This was a much harder life than the other bomb crew facilities of the Eighth Air Force in England. At times the area was sunny and dry, but when it rained the living areas could become a muddy quagmire.
The 484th combat color was insignia red painted on the upper half of the rudder and a red bowtie painted on the lower half of the rudder. The original insignia was to be an hourglass to signify that time was running out of the Axis Powers, but had to be turned on its side to fix the bottom of the rudder. With four squadrons, the 824th, 825th, 826th and 827th, the identification for each squadron was a two digit number painted at the nose and rear waist section of each aircraft. ID numbers were painted white for olive drab aircraft and later red on the bright metal aircraft.
From the 824th Bomb Squadron, 1st Lt. Eugene L. Frazier was the pilot of B-24F Marauder 42-52041 which had the identification number of 17. He and the crew were on their twelfth mission on 21 February 1945 to the railroad marshalling yards at Vienna, Austria. While over the target, Frazier and his crew were hit by flak at 13:26 hours. The following eyewitness account comes from the Missing Air Crew Report 12462. 1st Lt. Richard L. Calkins stated:
I was flying plane No. 12 in Baker 22 on Lt. Frazier’s wing (plane No. 17 Baker 21). Just a few seconds before bomb release, plane No. 17 peeled off to the left and down. There was no smoke or obvious damage but we had been in very intense flak for several seconds before this happened.
The pilot gave orders to bail out. The first seven bailed out near Gliesendorf. The pilot tried to fly the aircraft as far as he could toward the Russian lines but with the loss of altitude so great, he and the engineer and co-pilot were forced to also bail out within about two minutes of the first group. All landed safely on the ground and the aircraft crashed and burned within about 200 yards of where the pilot landed. All were captured and sent to an airfield at Wiener Naudstadt before being sent to the interrogation center at Dulag Luft – Oberusal. From there they were sent to Nuremburg and finally marched to Stalag 7A – Moosburg before being liberated on 29 April 1945 by Patton’s Third Army.