1. May 29, 1944 - First Mission
Wallersdorf Air Field - Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The new aircraft that I took overseas was shot down on this our first mission. Lt. Whaley in command, Lt. Carnige in 2nd aircraft also shot down. My aircraft was severely damaged and #2 engine set on fire. Large chuck of flak narrowly missed my left leg over target. Ammunition in waist hit and exploded with fire. Several fuel cells shot out. Elevator trim tabs, radios, 4 of seven strands of main elevator cables severed, all four propellers ran away. Put engine fire out and fell out of formation, could not transfer fuel. Number two engine would catch on fire and we would put it out. This continued until we finally flew back to Foggia #7 airfield where we landed severely damaged and on fire. Lt. Hintenak in another B-24 escorted us to Foggia, picked us up and returned to our base. Aircraft was finally repaired and returned to base. Crew fixed 44 items. such as radios, fuel cells, control and trim cables, inboard wing section, left wing flap, left landing gear, #2 engine nacelle, auto pilot servos, patched many flak holes in waist, and fire damage in waist, etc. This aircraft was later shot down over Bor Yugoslavia enroute to Giurgiu, Romaina. - Double Credit Mission.
Prior to landing #2 engine caught fire again and we could not put it out. It would eventually burn the wing off if we could not get the aircraft down. We made a high approach to the runway so crew could bail out if the aircraft became uncontrollable. As a result we overshot the runway. We then made a 360 degree tum to land on the other end. At this time we were told that a P-38 on fire was approaching the runway from the opposite direction and we were ordered to go around and let him land. I told the tower that we were burning too bad and I was going to land, and to tell the P-38 to go around.
A colonel came on the radio and gave me a direct order to go around and let the P-38 land. I told him that I was more afraid of my airplane than I was of him and proceeded to land. The P-38 flew over us and landed, burning, on one end of the runway, and we were burning on the other end. Lt. Hintenak landed, picked us up and took off over the burning P-38 before the irate colonel could get to us. We then buzzed the runway over the burning aircraft and proceeded to our base. I made a full report of the incident to my commander and he said "don't worry about it, you got your crew back OK.'" I never heard any more about the incident.