Anthony DeFusco WWII Radio Gunner

This story is about my uncle, Anthony J. DeFusco, who was a Radio Gunner on a B-25 bomber during WWII.

My grandparents lived in Providence, Rhode Island. They had six sons, five of whom served in the military during WWII, as well as two of their grandsons. Uncle Anthony was the only one who did not come home.

Uncle Anthony and his crew were part of the 11th Bomb Squadron attached to the 341st Bombardment Group. They were in the Pacific and flew from an airbase located somewhere in China. They were part of the CBI (China-Burma-India) operation.

We never had a lot of details about various missions, but I will try to recall what I can, even though I was a young boy when all this was happening.

On their 25th mission, they took a lot of ground fire, and Uncle Anthony was hit in the foot. He recovered from that injury without a great deal of difficulty. When he returned to his crew (with his Purple Heart), they continued to go out on bombing missions. Not too long after his foot injury, Grandma and Grandpa received a message via Western Union saying Uncle Anthony, 2nd Lt. John C. Halsell, 2nd Lt. John M. Nagy, S/Sgt. Carroll B. Duncan, and S/Sgt. Joseph J. Kaldon were missing in action.

Months passed, and then a second telegram arrived, stating that the War Department had to presume the crew was lost. Their final flight was from Kweilin, China on a low-level combat mission to Anjen, China. They were reported lost near Lingling, China.

After the war, my Grandparents received a phone call from one of Uncle Anthony’s war buddies who asked if he could visit them. At that time, I was about eight years old, but to this day I can picture that young man walking through the door and sitting at the kitchen table with Grandma and Papa. You know it’s not a good day when your Papa has tears in his eyes. The young man explained that he had gone through radio and gunnery school with Uncle Anthony and they were very close friends.

He said they were returning from a low-level combat mission when they ran into bad weather. He was in another B-25 in the formation. The pilots decided it would be wise to put some distance between the aircraft in such bad weather, they waved as the aircraft turned away from each other; that was the last he saw of them. For that young man to come to see my grandparents, look them in the eyes, and tell his story must have taken a lot of courage.

The 11th Bomb Squadron, 341st Bomb Group, 10th Air Force, 14th Air Force (attached), China-Burma-India (CBI): they were part of the American Volunteer Group (AGV) which later became the Chinese American Task Force (CATF).

The 11th Bomb Squadron made many bomb runs in an effort to destroy the Japanese railroad systems and roads, and they were subjected to mass ground fire. Although de-activated after WWII, the squadron was reactivated. In 1998, they were flying B-52 aircraft out of Barksdale Air Force Base. The squadron commander was kind enough to send me a decal and a current squadron patch, the same design as the one shown on Uncle Anthony’s jacket. Imagine– they started with B-25s and later flew B-52s.

-Tony Caruso