416th Bombardment Group (L)
February 2, 1945, Friday
Aircraft Serial Number (Type): 43-22024 (Douglas A-20J-20-DO Havoc)
9th AF; 416th Bomb Gp; 669th Bomb Sq
Mission # 197; Box: II; Flight: WINDOW; Position: 3; A/C Fuselage Code: 2A-E
Reason: Unexplainable explosion
Point Of Departure: A-55 Melun/Villaroche, France
Location: AAF Station A-78, Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium
Lieutenant D.E. Smith was flying a window plane. On the return trip he heard an explosion in the rear compartment of the plane. He called his gunners, but neither of them answered. He landed the plane safely at A-78. In the gunners compartment, he found Sergeant R. DeStafono dead. His body was badly broken. Only one small hole was visible in the plane, but the bulkhead had been sprung by the force of the unexplainable explosion. The other gunner, Staff Sergeant D.R. Abriola, was seen to bail out after the explosion near Bolbark, in enemy territory, and is listed as MIA.
(416th BG History 1945)
The second day of February found misfortune once more plaguing the 669th. In an attack on the Euskirken Supply Center, which served as a processing and billeting area for enemy troops enroute to the front, the aircraft piloted by Lt. D. E. Smith was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. An explosion occured in the gunners compartment of the airplane. Sgt. Richard De Stefano, the top turret gunner, was killed outright. The engineer gunner, S/Sgt. D. F. Abriola, bailed out. When last seen, S/Sgt. Abriola was drifting down to a landing behind enemy lines. (It should be added that the aircraft was an A20K.) Lt. Smith was obliged to crash land the airplane at AAF Sta. A-78. Fortunately, he escaped injury.
("669th Bombardment Squadron (L) History")
See Mission # 197 for additional details