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Crash of B-17 44-8253 MACR 12491


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Mission 168 to Vienna supply depot

The 463rd Bomb Group, with its four squadrons 772nd, 773rd, 774th, 775th Bomb Squadrons of the Fifteenth Air Force, was based at Celone Airfield, Italy. Celone airfield was a semi-permanent airfield located approximately 6 miles north of the Foggia Airfield complex and had a 6,000 foot pierced steel plated runway. B-17s of the 463rd Bombardment Group and Liberator Mk.VI's of 2 (SAAF) Wing (31 (SAAF) Sqn and 34 (SAAF) Sqn) were based at the airfield between 9 March 1944 and 25 September 1945. The group flew missions against railroad bridges, marshaling yards and airdromes in the Balkans.

15 February 1945 was mission 168 for the bomb group and the target this day was to be the supply depot at Vienna, Austria.  1st Lt. Kenneth V. Rohr and his crew of the B-17G aircraft 44-8253 were assigned to the mission.  This was the first mission for this brand ne PFF pathfinder or radar navigation/bombing equipped aircraft.  Lt. Rohr was flying in the B-Baker lead (high right in the formation) when another formation of bombers from the 483rd Bomb Group flew over above them on a converging angle of attack to the target.  The higher formation of bombers began to release their bombs not realizing Lt. Rohr’s group was below them.  Two strings of bombs dropped directly between the Able and Baker squadrons.  One bomb struck Lt. Rohr’s ship and exploded with a flash.  The plane began to burn and drop away from the formation.  One eyewitness stated they were hit in the radio room and on the right wing with two separate bombs.  Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier and tail gunner Farmer were all thrown from the aircraft.  They parachuted safely to the ground.  The remaining six crew members were killed.

When the crew failed to return to base, Missing Air Crew Report 12491 was opened.

  • Austria
  • 15 February 1945

Carl R. Stauffenegger

Carl R. Stauffenger (35600714) was the navigator.  He was born on 2 August 1923 in Mahoning County, OH the son of John Emil Stauffenegger (1875-unk) and Martha Stauffenegger (1878-1940). He was born on a dairy farm and the youngest of 13 children.  Both of his parents were immigrants from Switerland.  After graduating high school, he enlisted in the U.S Army Air Corps on 28 January 1943 in Akron, OH.

He was married in March 1944 to Opal Deloris "Dorrie" Wayt (1924-2011).  Just 11 months later, Stauffenger was killed in action on 15 February 1945 when his B-17 was hit by bombs and exploded.

Stauffenegger was later buried in the Hartzell Cemetery, Portage County, OH.

Lawrence Wayne Farmer

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Staff Sgt. Lawrence Wayne Farmer (37070687) was the tail gunner.  He was born on 21 September 1919 in Missouri, son of Lawrence Boyd and Jessie Mae (Mosier) Farmer.  His mother was widowed at an early age and the family lived with his grandparents in Sterling, KS. He graduated from high school. His wife was Ruby Beth Farmer who lived in Hutchinson, KS. After the war, Farmer worked for 37 years as the traffic manager for Owens-Illinois, the corrugated box manufacturer. He and his wife lived in South Gate, CA.  Farmer died on 12 September 1996 in Lynwood, CA.

Contributor: jkurtspence
Created: February 26, 2012 · Modified: May 4, 2013

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