The 31st Fighter Group, 309th Fighter Squadron of the Fifteenth Air Force was based at San Severo, Italy. The airfield, located near the land spur on the Adriatic, was nicknamed “Gracie.” Between April 1944 and March 1945, the fighter group flew P-51s in support of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. In late January 1945, a severe 12 inch snowstorm hit San Severo and operations were cancelled for a couple of weeks. Missions continued in February but there was little Luftwaffe resistance.
At 09:40 hours on 22 February 1945, 1st Lt. John T. Cravey took off from San Severo to provide general target cover and strafing in the Freising area of Germany. This was his second mission. His Mustang was a P-51C with serial number 43-24797 and WZ-L markings on the tail. At 14:00 hours and at an altitude of 16,000 feet, Carvey was seen to jettison his canopy and disappear into overcast clouds above Innsbruck, Austria. Gasoline or glycol and dark smoke were observed coming from a hole in his canopy and fuselage. His wingman, Captain Roger H. Zierenberg (O-722201) circled for about 15 minutes hunting for any signs of a parachute or crashed wreckage. None were found. Missing Air Crew Report 12668 was filed when he did not return to base.