You asked for information about mission #179, of which the target for the 3 planes from the 513th Sqdn, were to hit. This was on 10/19/43 and the target was a R.R. Bridge at Compomarino, Italy.
I was in #1 position of our flight, B.D. Gordon was in #2 and H. Whitlock was in #3. We were called at 04:30 for breakfast and briefing. We took off, buzzed the field and headed north-east until we passed Sicily. Then we turned toward the east, and crossed Italy between Salerno and Naples.
We had been flying at about 1500-2000', then climbed to get over the Italian mountains, and slid down the other side. We flew loose formation all of the way across Italy and the mountains, thru heavy cloud cover - twisting turning and threading our way thru cloud canyons.
When I got to the Adriatic Sea, I was over the "spur" of the boot of Italy. It is a predominant peninsula with a small mountain peak about 3500' high and there were 3 small towns along the coast. During all of that loose formation and screwy cloud flying, I had lost both of my wingmen, so I circled once out over the sea. A B-24 came into sight and he got on my wing. We circled again, and picked up another one.
We then headed N-W paralleling the coast - but about 15 miles east of it dropped down to about 150 ft above the water. Our Navigator, Warren Gregg had a good check point, the town of Viesti on the "spur", the middle town of the three. So when he told me it was time to turn for our bomb run, I felt sure we were "right on the money".
In no time at all, there was our bridge - all stretched out from one side of a wide shallow valley to the other. BUT - there were 2 bridges: one railway and one highway!!
My wingmen slid out about 100 feet on each side of me. I dropped down to about 25 feet and they followed. Then, when we were almost on top of the bridges, we pulled up to clear them and dropped our bombs at the same time, our gunners shot up the areas where the bridges met each side of the valley. We had been briefed that anti-aircraft gun emplacements may be there. There were no guns there, but our guys "plowed up" the dirt where they could have been.
We hit both bridges. Both wingmen slid back into a tight formation. We were indicating about 180 MPH. Suddenly and finally I realized we were headed straight up the valley - it was narrowing - the walls were getting higher and steeper, and that damn mountain was looming up ahead of us. I pushed all 4 throttles full forward, pulled back on the wheel and turned sharp left. I went up and over the hill on our left with plenty of room to spare, and it was a good thing, because our left wingman needed it! I had pulled up and turned so suddenly that he had to slide under me to keep from running into me, then he followed. The other wingman just slid out a little, then followed. I bet that left wingman cussed me out - up and down, and I don't blame him. But there we were heading up the valley, and up to the mountain! I had to do something.
Well, we went down the other side of the hill and out over the Adriatic Sea again. Warren Gregg gave me headings back to that little mountain peak on the "spur", then we followed the reverse headings of our outbound route. We arrived at our base at Enfidaville 8 hours and 40 minutes after take off.
After de-briefing I found out that Whitlock could not find us after we had separated in the clouds over Italy. AND - I never found out who my wingmen were!
I kept a small pocket diary from the time I entered the service Dec. 18, 1941 until the day I returned home from overseas, Dec. 9, 1943. A few years ago I rewrote it and recorded my recollection of other events. The mission of Oct. 19, 1943 was included in it so, much of what I have written in this reply to your inquiry is from that diary.