- 15th Air Force, USAAF during the Second World War -
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Those known to have served with
15th Air Force, USAAF
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
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Lewis Terry Hatcher 15th Air ForceTerry Hatcher enlisted in November 1942 and trained as a B-17 pilot. He served with the 15th Air force, at one point from a base in Foggia, Italy. He and his fellow airmen completed 24 bombing missions over Germany, Austria, Poland, Yugoslavia and Italy. but it was the 19th mission, on March 16, 1945, in which he bombed the Schwechat oil refinery in Austria, that he called his "longest day".
The plane took off early that morning with a 6,000-pound payload. It rendez-voused over the Adriatic Sea with hundreds of other planes. The B-17 dropped its bombs on the target and was turning to head back to base when two of the four engines quit, hit by enemy fire. Flak had stripped through the right wing and parts of the instrument panel - and oil and gas streamed out, washing into the rear gunner's position," Mr. Hatcher told a veterans' group on 7th Feb. 1991. "The Decision was made not to bail out, but to make a go for it, out of enemy territory. Shortly afterward, a third engine quit, and the plane started losing altitude at the rate of 1,500 feet a minute. Notwithstanding all of this, the Hungarian border was reached, and a belly landing ensued on a hilly piece of farmland. Miraculously, the entire crew got out without injury. Local farm folk appeared, including one old farmer, who stepped out of the crowd flourishing a bottle of vodka and shouting, 'Do you want a drink, comrade?' The answer, 'Why not?'"
The airmen were handed over to the Russians, who in turn led them to safety with American combat troops. Mr. Hatcher told the Military Order of the World Wars. The story was chronicled by Ken Burns in his documentary "The War".S. Flynn
Norman Wiseman 15th AirforceI was a B-24 engineer/gunner assigned to 15th Airforce and flew from Italy. I was shot down on 25 July 1944 at Lintz, Austria. I was sent to Stalag Luft 4. I made the 86 day march and was released on 2nd May 1945.Norman Wiseman
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