BURKART, CHARLES WILLIAM JR. Name: Charles William Burkart, Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 13th Bomber Squadron, Da Nang AB SV Date of Birth: 17 May 1931 Home City of Record: Selkirk NY Date of Loss: 13 June 1966 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 171500N 1054500E (WE778137) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: B57 Refno: 0359 Other Personnel in Incident: Everett O. Kerr (Missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 1990 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 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam. Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful and the recovery rate was high. Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated, Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been held in Laos. The B57 Canberra was one of the aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Canberra first came to the Vietnam theater at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident om 1964. It proved to vulnerable and difficult to repair for working targets over North Vietnam, but proved effective in the armed reconnaissance Trail operations of Operation Steel Tiger. The Canberra was sometimes used in conjunction with other, more sophisticated aircraft, such as the C130, and was especially effective on night missions. Capt. Charles W. Burkart Jr. was the pilot and Capt. Everett O. Kerr the navigator of a B57 Canberra assigned a night strike mission over Laos on June 13, 1966. Capt. Burkart's aircraft was flying in a flight of three planes. Prior to reaching the target area, the flight became separated due to bad weather. The last known radio contact from Burkart and Kerr was approximately 50 minutes after takeoff at Da Nang. Their approximate location was about 8 miles southeast of the city of Ban Som Peng in the Ban Karai Pass region of Khammouane Province, Laos. Despite search efforts, no aircraft wreckage was located, and no emergency beeper signals were detected. Burkart and Kerr were classified Missing in Action. When 591 Americans were released from prisoner of war camps at the end of American involvement in the war, Kerr and Burkart were not among them. Not one American held in Laos had been released. In early 1979, thirteen years after their disappearance, Kerr and Burkart were administratively declared dead based on no specific information that they were alive. Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning Americans still held captive in Southeast Asia, the Kerr and Burkart families might be able to close this tragic chapter of their lives. But as long as Americans are alive, being held captive, Kerr and Burkart could be among them. It's time we brought these men home. Charles W. Burkart was promoted to the rank of Colonel and Everett O. Kerr was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period they were maintained missing.