28 May, 1944 — Italy
447th BS War Diary: Special Accounts: Today’s mission was a story of confusion and tragedy and triumph. Thirteen planes were scheduled to fly on a mission to bomb a railway bridge at Fado Viaduct Italy. We were to lead the mission of 24 planes, with Capt. Bounds in the lead plane. On the take off Capt. Cloward leading the second element was unable to find the first element to effect an assembly. Consequently, Lt Speer leading the second box of six also missed the assembly because he followed Capt. Cloward. Then when they went to the rendezvous point the mission had already left with the fighter escort and these nine planes then had to return to the base.
Capt. Bounds led the mission perfectly. Lt. Windler, his bombardier, scored a “shock” when he hit the southwest end of the bridge, the exact part of the bridge he was briefed to hit. However, Lt. Denman’s plane was hit by the intense accurate antiaircraft fire, which started even before the formation went on its bomb run, and fell out of formation. It was last seen by the escort heading toward Bologne under control on single
engine. No chutes were seen to leave it. The other two wingmen with Capt. Bounds released their bombs about 30 seconds before they reached the target and naturally hit considerably out of the target area. Capt. Bounds’ plane was the only one of our Squadron to drop bombs on the target, but luckily he had Lt. Windler as bombardier who in all his missions with this Squadron has missed his target only once.
The crew of the lost plane was as follows: 2nd Lt. John L. Denman, 2nd Lt. Merlin Hueppchen, 2nd Lt. William D. Wiley, Sgt. Robert R. Plutchak, S/Sgt. Leo J. Martin, and Sgt. George D. Merrill.