Distinguished Unit Citation
For Action Over Bratislava, Czechoslovakia
16 June, 1944
War Department General Orders No. 3, 1945
The 376th Bombardment Group is cited for outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy. Notified to prepare maximum aircraft for a mission against the Apollo Oil Refinery in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, the ground crews worked enthusiastically and with determination to have all possible aircraft in commission for this vital operation. A successful completion of the attack against this oil refinery, which produced 20 percent of the refinery production for Czechoslovakia, would deprive the Axis forces of an important source of fuel at a most critical time.
On 16 June, 1944, thirty-nine B-24 type aircraft heavily loaded with maximum tonnage were airborne, and assuming lead of their wing and air force, the group set course for their destination. As their formation neared the target it was engaged by waves of enemy fighters,which made persistent and highly aggressive attacks in a fierce aerial battle which continued for over thirty minutes. During the ensuing engagement the enemy used all types of aircraft and practically every technique of attack in an attempt to divert the group and disrupt its bombing accuracy. Throughout the bombing run the enemy pilots, grimly determined to protect the target, recklessly pressed their attacks to within a few yards of the bombers, some even diving through the entire formation and in one case actually ramming one of the aircraft. Despite this heavy fighter opposition, together with intense and accurate fire over the target, the gallant crews, displaying outstanding courage and determination, battled their way through the enemy defense for a highly successful bombing run.
Under the superior leadership, the bombs from the following formations were well concentrated in the target area, inflicting grave damage to vital installations and supplies. Many large buildings suffered direct hits and were destroyed. Large fires were observed throughout the refinery area destroying storage tanks and facilities, and an adjacent marshalling yard sustained severe damage. Through their superior skill and efficient combat tactics in maintaining excellent formation throughout the mission, their losses were held to a minimum of two bombers, while the gallant gunners of the group destroyed twelve enemy fighters in the heroic defense of their formation.
By the extraordinary heroism, professional skill, and determination of the combat crews, together with the superior technical skill, and devotion to duty of the ground personnel, the 376th Bombardment Group has reflected great credit on itself and the armed forces of the United States.