|Joseph F. Donahue|
|Local Airmen Serving with Liberator Groups in Italy|
|15TH AAF IN ITALY—The 300th combat mission of a B-24
Liberator Group based in southern Italy was chalked up recently when its
"bomb-totin' Libs" struck a Nazi-held railroad viaduct at
Avisio, Italy, on the important Brenner pass route.
This enviable record, established in over two years of overseas operations, now finds this group one of the indestructible links in the powerful chain of the Fifteenth Army Air Force bombing forces.
After becoming operational in August 1942, the group staged its first mission to the Egyptian port of Mersa Matruh, then being used as a supply point for Rommel's Afrika Korps.
This was the beginning of many firsts, in which this group has distinguished itself. It participated in the first bomber attack on Italy, the first low-level attack on Ploesti, the Allied attack on Nazi targets in the Rome area and, finally, the invasion of southern France.
If the figure 300 doesn't look too impressive, possibly these figures will be more convincing. On the average, an operational mission was flown every other day. In that time 13,000 tons of bombs were dropped on enemy targets; roughly 15,000,000 gallons of gas were used to transport 6,163 B-24s over 10,003,950 miles. In this vast endeavor, more than 30,000 man hours of flying time were logged.
The group is the proud possessor of two Presidential Citations and a score of commendations for its participation in bombing attacks on every important objective in southern Germany, southern France, northern Italy, and the Balkans.
No special observance of the mission was held except that the boys did "one helluva good job on the target."
Sergeant Merle W. Peterson, son of Mr. and Mrs. N. R. Peterson, Route 5, Cadott, WI serves in the ordnance section of this veteran organization.
Corporal Joseph P. Donahue, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Donahue, New Richmond, is an aircraft armorer with a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group which has flown 350 combat missions.
The group has bombed many of the high priority targets in Nazi-held Europe and the Balkans. Strategic Axis installations in Regensburg, Munich, Klagenfurt, Steyr, Wiener Neustadt, Budapest, and Vienna have been repeatedly attacked with excellent results.
It has been cited twice by the President of the United States, once for the low-level attack on the Ploesti oil fields, August 1943, which severely crippled German refineries, and again for its outstanding performance in the strategic support of the Allied forces in the Middle East. The group is the oldest unit serving in the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations.
Corporal Donahue entered the Army on August 13, 1942. Before entering the Armed Forces, he was a salesman. He has been authorized to wear the Distinguished Unit Badge and Cluster, the African- European-Middle East Campaign Ribbon with four Campaign Stars and the Good Conduct Medal.
Sergeant La Verne Barrett, whose wife, Mrs. Hazel Barrett makes her home at 920 1/2 Forest Street, Eau Claire, was awarded the Good Conduct Medal for exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity. He is with a veteran Fifteenth Air Force B-24 Liberator Bomb Group. His group has played a vital role in the aerial assaults on enemy industrial and communications targets in northern Italy, the Balkans, and southern Germany. It also prefaced the Allied landings on the coast of southern France by bombing German gun emplacements and shore installations.