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DVIDS – News – Strangers in a Strange Land: 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Northern Italy

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PADUA, Italy – Today marks the 80th anniversary of a pivotal moment during World War II: the air battle of December 28, 1943. To commemorate this historic event, ceremonies were held in Piazza Giorgio Zattarin in Sovon di Vo in Padua and on Lake Fimon in Arcugnano. These gatherings serve not only as a memorial service, but also as a tribute to the brave men aboard B-24D Liberator #42-40658 and the crew of “Ready, Willing and Able.”

On December 28, 1943, more than 70 Axis fighters engaged and shot down 10 B-24 “Liberator” bombers of the 376th Heavy Bomber Group (HBG) of the 15th Air Force over northern Italy.

The 376th HBG, based in San Pancrazio, aka San Pan, in the heel of Italy, was tasked with destroying the railway yard at Vicenza. All six aircraft of No. 512 Squadron and two each of No. 514 and No. 515 Squadrons were lost.

Piazza Giorgio Zattarin in Sovon di Vo, Padua, hosted a small gathering with local bands. Vo Mayor Giuliano Martini says the event has a special meaning.
“We are proud to remember what it was like 80 years ago, when a strange American soldier in a strange land crashed in this area. For us, honoring their sacrifice is a great way to honor them today. It is very important to remember the freedom of

In his speech, Maj. Stephen Payne, on behalf of U.S. Task Force Southern Europe-AF (SETAF-AF), reflected on Italy’s continuing ties with its neighbors today. “I hereby thank our friends and allies in Italy for recognizing the sacrifices of our fellow Americans and wanting to honor them with this ceremony and this plaque. As friends and neighbors, we Here we are, 80 years together and many more to come. Our bond is unbreakable.”

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a monument, wreaths and fresh flowers, and a silent tribute to the heroes of B-24D Liberator #42-40658. These brave men include Lt. Thomas Haig, Sgt. Private Leonard P. Hager, Private Winston P. Ivey, and Staff Sergeant Joseph A. Kerschner made the ultimate sacrifice during an air battle when they were shot down by a German fighter plane.

At the same time, a small ceremony was held at the north end of Lake Fimon in Arcugnano, in collaboration with VFW Post 8862, the Commune of Arcugnano, and Arcugnano Alpini. The 207th Military Intelligence Brigade paid tribute on behalf of those killed in the downing of the B-24 bomber “Ready, Willing and Able.” The ceremony was held at a memorial to the crashed bomber and served as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the crew.

In 2011, a monument was dedicated to the crew of the “Ready, Willing and Able” in a ceremony presided over by the Mayor of Arcugnano and the Vicenza Garrison Commander. Italian and American veterans took part in this heartfelt event, leaving an indelible mark on the history of both countries. The engraved plaque eloquently reads:

*In memory of the fallen crew members
American B-24
At USAAF 376th Group
shot down here
in World War II
December 28, 1943
The city of Arcugnano
placed on this
December 28, 2011*

Today’s ceremony in Italy tells a story of 80 years of courage. In Piazza Giorgio Zattarin there is a monument honoring the heroism of B-24D Liberator #42-40658. On Lake Fimon in Arcugnano, the sign “Ready, Willing, Capable” tells a story of friendship and sacrifice.

As we pause to remember these brave souls, we are reminded that their legacy does not remain only in the history books. It lives on in the stories we tell, the monuments we erect, and the rituals that bind generations. Remembering these heroes is not just about the past. It’s about keeping their courage alive and inspiring us today.







Obtained data: December 28, 2023
Post date: December 29, 2023 11:42
Story ID: 461015
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