Joseph A. Jagunich was in the engineering department, 515 squadron. He wrote the following about Walter Wagner's article:
It was with great interest that I read your article about salvaging aircraft in Jesi, Italy..... I was one of the nine men from the 376th who participated in that assignment. As Walter Wagner related, we worked under very poor conditions - rain, snow, cold and mud - but none of us were the kind to admit it was difficult.
Going to Jesi from San Pancrazio, we flew up there in a B-24, but on the way back we had no such luck. We left Jesi on January 29 as passengers in a station wagon that had come for Colonel Hullen, head of the PX installations in Italy. We arrived at San Beneditto in time for lunch and then continued on south.
Some snow began to fall at Pescara. As luck would have it, a 6x6 driven by Charles Dolan of Spencer, West Virginia, drove ahead of us to break trail. On the top of the mountain the snow got so deep that the truck bogged down with us in the station wagon behind it. We spent the night in a howling snowstorm. We would have frozen if we didn't have the leather flight clothing that we used when working on the planes.
In the early morning we began to trample snow in front of Dolan's truck so it could move. In the meantime, he found chains in his tool storage. With chains on the wheels, the 6x6 could move forward and backward, each time pulling the station wagon ahead. The two vehicles began to descend the mountain road, and soon it got better and better until the station wagon could finally handle the road alone.
We awoke the next day to find a flat tire on the station wagon. We put the spare on but got another flat tire near San Salva, where we had one tire repaired. That tire lasted until we got to Voggia, where we had another flat. Colonel Hullen, George Pesta and I got into Dolan's truck while the other two men stayed with the wagon. We in the truck were in Bari at 1:30 P.M. and the station wagon came in at 3:30 P.M. The journey ended when we came to San Pancrazio at4:30 P.M. on February 3, 1945.
Quite a return trip from Jesi.
I am enclosing a copy of the commendation our men received from General Rush and Colonel Graff. It makes me feel proud to know that our work was not in vain.
HEADQUARTERS 47TH WING SUBJECT:
Letter of Commendation
TO: Commanding Officer, 376th B.G.
I. Recently the following officer and enlisted men of your organization together with two (2) officers and twenty-three (23) enlisted men from other Groups of this Wing were sent to the Jesi district to repair aircraft in that area.
Capt. Walter J. Wagner, Sgt. Joseph A. Jagunich, Cpl. Frank J. Wagner, Sgt. Donald W. Brueggeman, M/Sgt. Thomas M. Davis, Sgt. Joseph A. Buckley, Sgt. George R. Pesta, Pvt. Gordon W. Clymer, M/Sgt. Alvin A. Elliott
2. This move was necessary due to the serious lack of combat aircraft at that time. Within a week and a half after arrival in Jesi these men had repaired and returned to this Wing thirteen (13) B-24's that had been forced down on fields in northern Italy. Before the return of these men to their organizations they repaired twenty-four (24) B-24 aircraft on those fields, whether they belong to this Wing or to other Wings in the Fifteenth Air Force. This work was accomplished without adequate facilities, and under very adverse weather conditions.
3. For their work and loyalty they deserve the highest commendation.
Hugo P. Rush, B. General, Commanding
* * *
HQ 376TH BOMB GP (H)
TO: Commanding Officers, 512th, 513th, 514th, 515th Bomb Sq (H)
I take great pride in forwarding this letter of commendation to you and am gratified to learn that, through the personal efforts of the personnel listed in basic communication. the group tradition of its ability to accomplish aircraft maintenance work without adequate facilities and under adverse weather conditions has been forcibly brought to the attention of higher headquarters.
2. This correspondence will be made a part of the 201 File of each individual.
T. Q. Graff, Colonel, Commanding