The 454th Bomb Group, 736th Bomb Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was based in San Giovannia, Italy in the winter of 1945.
Captain Richard J. Fry was the pilot of the B-24J Marauder 42-95522 nicknamed “Terrible Terry”. On 14 February 1945, the crews mission was to the Floridsdorf Oil Refineries near Vienna, Austria. Shortly before bombs away, the aircraft suffered a direct hit just forward of where the co-pilot was seated. Six airmen were killed instantly. This included the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radar navigator, engineer, radio operator and one waist gunner. One airman bailed out too close to the ground and died later in a Czech hospital. Five airmen managed to bail out and landed successfully. But within were taken POW. Missing Air Crew Report 12108 was filed and gave the following eyewitness account by 2nd Lt. Donald J. Newell:
I was flying aircraft #503 in number five (5) position of the group lead box, directly behind Captain Fry, who was in number two (2) position of the same box. Approximately one (1) minute before bombs away, Captain Fry was hit by flak. I count not determine the exact location of the hit, but it appeared as if he were hit in the fuselage in the vicinity of the co-pilot’s compartment.
_ Fragments of his aircraft struck my aircraft, knocking out my windshield and injuring the engineer and co-pilot._
_ Just as bombs away, Captain Fry’s aircraft peeled up and back over the formation. My gunners reported that he disappeared in the six-tenths cloud coverage below us. No parachutes were observed by any of my crew members. The aircraft appeared to be still under control when last sighted. A very slight trail of smoke was left behind the aircraft._