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Lt. John H. Chavis disappears during mission

Lt. John H. Chavis disappears during mission


Lt. John H. Chavis disappeared in the clouds soon after take-off for a bomber escort mission to Germany.

Chavis of Raleigh, N.C., graduated from flight training on April 15, 1944, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, and soon deployed to Italy with the 99th Fighter Squadron.

On Feb. 16, 1945, Chavis was part of a bomber escort mission from Ramitelli Air Field, Italy, to Munich, Germany. Soon after take-off, Chavis disappeared.

"When we started up through the overcast, the formation got strung out, but I could see Lt. Chavis up in front of me," 2nd Lt. Harold H. Brown wrote in a military report. "The clouds got so thick that I could not see him anymore, so I went on my own instruments. I broke out of the overcast about 30 seconds later. Lt. (Wendell W.) Hockaday was on my wing then, but I didn't see Lt. Chavis break out of the overcast."

Hockaday said he saw each pilot fly into the clouds, but was unable to see them once he entered the overcast.

"Breaking out of the overcast, I didn't see Lt. Chavis," Hockaday wrote in the report. "It took approximately one minute to get through the overcast. After checking our flight, we found several men missing and Lt. Chavis was the only one unaccounted for."

Chavis' name is included on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy. According to a government database, he was awarded an Air Medal with an oak leaf cluster and a Purple Heart for his military service.


Click on a name or map pin to learn more and see a video about each World War I and World War II cemetery. Also see America's national cemeteries.

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