The 376th Bomb Group, 514th Bomb Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was based at Sam Pancrazio, Italy which was located near Taranto Bay in the southern part of the Italian boot. The bomb group had moved to San Bancrazio from northern Africa in November 1943.
Captain Wilbur C. Wood was the pilot of Liberator B-24J, serial number 44-48964 when it took off 7 February 1945 on a high altitude bombing mission to the Moosbierbaum oil refinery in Austria. The aircraft, whose nose number was 72-M, was hit by flak just after bombs away and leaving the target. Wood called over the radio and reported that he had two engines shot out and was dropping behind. Approximately 10 minutes later, he called again and said that he was having trouble and would have his crew bail out. After hearing the bail out order, all crewmen left the aircraft before the Liberator crashed near the community of Kirchberg in Pettau County, Slovenia. All were captured by German soldiers except RCM operator Tech Sgt. James O. Neifert, Jr. who was killed and buried in a local cemetery. Missing Air Crew Report 12114 was filed when the crew failed to return to base.