BIFOLCHI, CHARLES LAWRENCE
Remains Identified June 2006
Name: Charles Lawrence Bifolchi
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Tan Son Nhut Airbase
Date of Birth: 27 October 1943
Home City of Record: Quincy MA
Date of Loss: 08 January 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 145500N 1075400E (ZB125515)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: Hallie W. Smith (missing)
Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2016.
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Hallie W. Smith was the pilot and 1Lt. Charles L. Bifolchi
the navigator aboard an RF4C Phantom reconnaissance jet from the 16th
Tactical Recon Squadron at Than Son Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam. On January
8, 1968, Smith and Bifolchi were assigned a reconnaissance mission and were
en route to the target when radar and radio contact was lost in Kontum
Province, South Vietnam, about 15 miles north of the city of Dak To.
Neither the aircraft nor the crew was ever located, despite search efforts.
Because of circumstances surrounding the incident, both men were classified
Missing in Action, and there is a strong probability that the enemy knows
their fates - dead or alive.
When the last American troops left Southeast Asia in 1975, some 2500
Americans were unaccounted for. Reports received by the U.S. Government
since that time build a strong case for belief that hundreds of these
"unaccounted for" Americans are still alive and in captivity.
Henry Kissinger has said that the problem of unrecoverable Prisoners is an
"unfortunate" byproduct of limited political engagements. This does not seem
to be consistent with the high value we, as a nation, place on individual
human lives. Men like Smith and Bifolchi, who went to Vietnam because their
country asked it of them are too precious to the future of this nation to
write them off as expendable.
Whether Smith and Bifolchi survived the downing of their aircraft to be
captured is unknown. Whether they are among those said to be alive is
uncertain. What seems clear, however, is that as long as even one man
remains alive, held against his will, we owe him our very best efforts to
bring him home.
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1087-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2006
Airman Missing in Action from Vietnam War is Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced
today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the
Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial
with full military honors.
He is Maj. Charles L. Bifolchi, U.S. Air Force, of Quincy, Mass. He will be
buried on Oct. 27 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On Jan. 8, 1968, Bifolchi and a fellow crewmember were flying an armed
reconnaissance mission against enemy targets in Kon Tum Province, South
Vietnam, when their RF-4C aircraft disappeared. A U.S. Army helicopter crew
found their aircraft wreckage soon after first light the next day. Search
efforts continued for four days; however, enemy activity in the area,
combined with the steep terrain and high winds at the crash site, precluded
the recovery of the crewmen.
Between 1993 and 2000, U.S. and Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.)
teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), conducted two
surveys of an area that was believed to be Bifolchi's crash site. One team
interviewed two Vietnamese citizens who turned over human remains they
claimed to have recovered at the site. Another team found wreckage
consistent with Bifolchi's aircraft.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence,
scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory
also used mitochondrial DNA from a known maternal relative in the
identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account
for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call (703) 699-1169.