The story of one WWII American airman who went missing when a crew of nine were shot down in August, 1944, and parachuted out of their B-24 Liberator in northern Italy.

April 28, 1945, following the advancement of Allied forces north of the Gothic Line. “British headquarters had been established in a wardamaged building that had been headquarters for the Nazis. To the officer in charge I recited my name, rank, and serial number and gave him the other vital information: I was with the 15th Air Force, 459th Bomb Group, 756th Squadron based at Cerignola, Italy, and that we had been shot down near Rovigo on August 28, 1944. The officer radioed my squadron commander at Cerignola and confirmed that all I said was true.

“‘Tomorrow we’ll pick him up in Ravenna,’ a Yankee voice crackled over the radio.

“‘We’ll fly you to Ravenna in a Piper Cub,’ the British officer told me in clipped English. ‘You will be picked up there and returned to Cerignola.’

“We finally arrived at the Adria airfield, actually only a flat grassy area. I climbed into the small Piper Cub that was to take me to Ravenna.

“Being accustomed to the lumbering bombers, I found riding the little plane somewhat akin to an amusement ride. We zipped across the grass and zoomed up at a steep angle. I looked down on the green fields of the Po Valley I had come to love so much. My heart ached at the thought of the Zangirolamis whom I had left so abruptly. ‘”‘Run, Francesco,'”‘ they had said. And I had run – perhaps too fast.”

Excerpted from the biographical book by Francis X. Medina, Ciao, Francesco.

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