HALL, HARLEY HUBERT REMAINS RETURNED 06/95 (I.D. disputed)
Name: Harley Hubert Hall Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy, pilot Unit: Fighter Squadron 143, USS ENTERPRISE (CV-65) Date of Birth: 23 December 1937 (Broken Bow NE) Home City of Record: Vancouver WA Date of Loss: 27 January 1973 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 165129N 1071023E (YO345650) Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War Category: 1 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4J
Other Personnel In Incident: Phillip A. Kientzler (released 1973)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 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 2008.
REMARKS: KIENTZLER TOLD HALL KILLED
SYNOPSIS: CDR Harley H. Hall was the commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143 onboard the aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE. On January 27, 1973 he and his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), LTCDR Philip A. Kientzler, launched in their F4J Phantom fighter aircraft on an attack mission against North Vietnamese supplies and logistic vehicles 15 miles northwest of Quang Tri, South Vietnam. Hall and Kientzler were under the direction of an OV10 Forward Air Controller (FAC).
CDR Hall's aircraft came under intense anti-aircraft fire while attacking several trucks and was hit. He made an attempt to fly back out to the safety of the sea, but minutes later the aircraft caught fire on the port wing and fuselage.
Both Hall and his co-pilot, LCDR Philip A. Kintzler ejected at 4,000 feet and were seen to land 100 feet apart near a village on an island in the Dam Cho Chua and Cua Viet Rivers. CDR Hall was seen moving about on the ground, discarding his parachute. No voice contact was made with the men, and the probability of immediate capture was considered very high.
Numerous aircraft made several passes over the area for the next several hours and were unsuccessful in observing either of the downed crewmen. Several emergency beepers were heard intermittently the remainder of the afternoon and throughout the night, however, no voice contact was established. Active, organized search and rescue efforts were subsequently terminated.
Only Kientzler was released at Operation Homecoming in 1973. He reported that during parachute descent they received heavy ground fire, at which time he was hit in the leg. He last saw CDR Hall as they touched the ground. When he asked his guards about his pilot, he was told that he was killed by another.
No other returned POW reported having knowledge of Harley Hall, yet the Pentagon maintained him in POW status for over 6 years, and documents were obtained that indicated that he was indeed captured. The Hanoi government claims to have no knowledge of CDR Harley Hall. This former member of the famed Blue Angels flight team remains missing.
Harley Hall was shot down on the last day of the war and was the last Navy air casualty of the Vietnam War. He was the last American to be classified Prisoner of War in the Vietnam War.
Harley H. Hall was promoted to the rank of Captain during the period he was maintained as a prisoner.
DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON, D.C. 20340
DIA EVALUATION OF INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM IN THE CASE OF COMMANDER HARLEY HALL, USN
On 13 July 1988, during a remains repatriation ceremony in Hanoi, representatives of the Vietnamese Office For Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) furnished Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC) officials with six written investigative reports. In the case of Commander Harley H. Hall, USN, the written report reiterates much of the information previously furnished by the U.S. in the JCRC negotiation narrative. It goes on to claim that a "team" as well as two "VNOSMP" specialists," visited the location where the Navy officer was; lost, researched historical documents in the villages and talked to "individuals directly related to this incident." According to the report, "Commander Phillip" (LCDR Phillip Kientzler, returnee) was captured; the other commander was found dead and buried in a trench. The investigative team claims to have visited the grave site and observed that it had been exhumed and the remains taken. The local populace allegedly told the team that "from about 1981-1982 up until the present time, many people from different areas came to rob the grave, a total of as many as eight occasions, the most recent being February 1988 Because of this, nothing is left in the grave site to be recovered. The local authorities carried out an investigation concerning the grave robbery but without results." The report concludes with the comment that the investigative team is not able to recover the remains of this pilot.
While we have no information which would indicate that Commander Hall survived to become a captive of the Vietnamese, the claims made by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) authorities regarding this incident stretch credulity and totally contradict their known policies and practices in handling remains of Americans based upon all-source intelligence collection efforts over a period spanning more than two decades, we can state with certainty that there is a centrally administered program which Outlines strict procedures for handling the remains of Americans. Throughout the war the Communist forces enforced a policy to find and bury Americans killed in action, and captured enemy documents continually stressed that this effort was important to the "political struggle." The procedures required that a full written report on the incident be prepared, to include a sketch of the burial location. When possible, photos of the Americans were supposed to be taken, and all personal effects, documents, maps, etc. were to be forwarded with the written report up the chain of command to Hanoi. Americans were buried in marked graves in well defined (if primitive by U.S. standards) cemeteries. Buried with them would be a paper which included the American's name, date, place and cause of death. This procedure was also followed in burying Vietnamese soldiers killed in battle.
Vietnamese public health laws require that remains be buried for at least three years before they are exhumed (a common Vietnamese practice) and reinterred in a final location. In the case of many Americans, after being buried for three years or more, remains were probably prepared and stored in a warehouse type situation.
In the specific instance of Commander Hall, if indeed he died at the time of his loss incident, one must presume that the outlined procedures were followed and he was not simply buried in a convenient nearby trench. Further, the area area where he was lost was under the control of combat troops at the time, which calls into question the Vietnamese claim that it was necessary to review village historical documents (which probably do not exist) and talk to villagers allegedly involved in the incident. Further, had villagers been interviewed and local documents researched, the VNOSMP representatives would have certainly discovered information on the two Americans who were lost in this same area only minutes after Commander Hall's aircraft was downed.
The claim that the grave was repeatedly robbed by "many people from different areas," is highly implausible. In general, Vietnamese citizens are highly superstitious about the dead and are not roaming the country robbing graves. Further, as all personal effects would have been previously forwarded to Hanoi, it should be well known to any would-be grave robbers that there is nothing of monetary value in the grave.
Over the past several years numerous SRV actions and statements appear to be aimed toward creating the illusion that they have difficulty accounting for missing Americans because private citizens are recovering and trafficking in remains. This is simply not the case.
In summary, the report furnished by the SRV is implausible and in direct conflict with their known policies and practices. Based on the circumstances of Commander Hall's loss we believe the communist government of Vietnam has more information and for reason; known only to them has decided to concoct this story instead.
TO: Department of Defense From: Mary Louise Hall (Mrs. Harley Hall) DATE: September 13,1993 RE: ALLEGED "ACCOUNTING" for "REMAINS" OF POW HARLEY H. HALL, USN (3 FRONT TEETH)
QUALIFIED ACKNOWLEDGMENT UNDER PROTEST FOR OBJECTIVITY AND TRUTH
In response to the recent recovery of three of Capt. Harley Hall's front teeth from the site of his downing and capture on 1 1/27/73 3 in Quang Tri Province, I would like the following to go on record:
While I acknowledge these to be three of my husband's correctly identified teeth (confirmed by a dental expert), I object most strenuously to the inference that they constitute evidence of death, and I by no means acknowledge or accept them as an accounting of the person of Harley H. Hall. As such, they represent not only insufficient evidence for case closure, but more importantly, BLATANTLY CONTRADICT ALL UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT ASSERTIONS & INTELLIGENCE ON THE HARLEY H. HALL CASE. Specifically, various U.S. Agencies have consistently maintained that he could NOT POSSIBLY have died AT THAT SITE, i.e. Quang Tri, an inference drawn from multiple references of captivity elsewhere.
Apart from the obvious fact that adults frequently lose teeth, which was notorious among POWs the condition of the teeth, the fact that they are front teeth, and especially the LOCATION of discovery all point to a more obvious or plausible explanation. Namely, Capt. Hall was either punched, received a blow to the mouth by his captors, these teeth were extracted, or fell out due to malnutrition and poor care.
As to the location of his alleged 'death':
1. NAVAL INTELLIGENCE: Naval Intelligence informed me two weeks after his downing that Harley had been captured - an absolute certainty based on first hand sensitive intelligence. It was the U.S. Government itself that had the information to change his status to Category I: Capture Confirmed (Early documents sent to me under the Freedom of Information Act indicated all four crewmen in Quang Tri incidents that day were captured. Capt. Hall remained in Category 1 POW status for a full seven years (1973 - 80) until all such cases except Charles Shelton, USAF, were altered to "PFOD (Presumptive Finding Of Death)."
2. DR. ROGER SHIELDS: It soon became evident that Harley was not only captured, but had arrived at a prison site of some sort. I was personally told by POW/MIA expert Dr. Roger Shields that Harley's was "one of the compelling, if not THE most compelling case of capture he had ever reviewed." "They are holding your husband, Mrs. Hall, one way or another," (the inference clearly being 'dead or alive') "and they can answer for him and never settle for anything LESS."
3. THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: NSA files have subsequently revealed that Capt. Hall was tracked from battalion to battalion to a particular PRISON CAMP ON THE VIETNAMESE/LAO BORDER, hence NOT in Quang Tri Province.
4. DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY REPORT: On 13 July, 1988, the DIA issued an analysis of Vietnamese reports to General Vessey about an "unrecoverable body" in the Quang Tri area which had fallen "into a trench." DIA analysis countered that this "answer" was totally unacceptable, and that the SRV report was a concoction "implausible and in conflict with their known policies and practices ' regarding Americans.' The area was heavily patrolled by North Vietnamese troops who would not have to resort to local villagers to account for an American downed under their noses (See Attached). Next, local "witnesses" began to tell of an American body, allegedly Harley's "buried there,' but digging teams repeatedly found nothing. But now the sudden turnover of three teeth from Quang Tri is viewed as a "resolution," while in fact they in no way mitigate the U.S. Government's previous objection to this story and insistence that Capt. Hall could not have died there, let alone be buried in an unrecorded spot.
5. CLASSIFIED U.S. FILES: This summer I returned to Washington, D.C., to review all pertinent files including classified material accessible to families. This reinforced my previous conclusion and added the STUNNING NEW REVELATION that Harley Hall had been INTERROGATED BY THE SOVIETS (which, I hasten to point out, could not have happened had he "died" in the area where his teeth were allegedly lost and recovered twenty years later!) This is in startling contradiction to the U.S. Government's present bland acceptance of his "death" in the Quang Tri area shortly after being shot down
6. REFUGEE STATEMENTS: I realize less credence is given to "hearsay" from Vietnamese, but it is no secret that about the time of my husband's downing and capture, there was frequent recounting of and bragging about "the parading of a big Blue Angel" in Vietnam, possibly through Hanoi.
Cases of misidentification and case closing on insufficient evidence are not new or unique to my husband's case, but all the above shows me is that the United States Government's "highest national priority" in this area is to shorten if not eliminate the missing list and close the book on as many discrepancy cases as possible, even if it means a completely false burial of hundreds of Americans - all to expunge the past, achieve e a hasty and slipshod "accounting," and facilitate lucrative and politically expedient relation with Hanoi.
As for the incredible statement that "we have no information which would indicate Capt. Hall survived to become a captive of the Vietnamese, ' one need only consider every other agency cited here, and Harley's official POW status, to perceive a gross discrepancy and untruth.
Some cases are genuinely resolved. My close friend, Carleen Blackburn, received almost full skeletal remains of her husband (notably with FOUR FRONT TEETH MISSING). Other cases are not. and perhaps never can or will be resolved. But the most unfortunate and painful of all are the FALSELY RESOLVED CASES. Thus, after twenty years of almost unbearable limbo and uncertainty, I may now face the worst possible case scenario: an eternal limbo, still not knowing. The three teeth only reinforce the intelligence on capture, while the U.S Government prepares to call the case "resolved" and cease even trying to account. Such a FALSE ANSWER IS WORSE THAN NONE, leaving me with less peace than before, not more!
I do not reject receiving the three teeth, nor will I take legal action against their identification, because they are indeed Harley's teeth and constitute all I have of my husband at the present moment. Had they been presented in the spirit of further clues or evidence in Harley's case, and not as an unwarranted "accounting" and resolution of ''death," I would even welcome them as one small clue to the mystery of what happened to him in captivity
Be assured that my protest does NOT stem from "wishful thinking," ' hoping against hope," or reluctance or refusal to accept death as an inevitable/probable outcome. For years, I have imagined, longed for and even dreamed of the da,v when I could hold a proper memorial service for Harley when his earthly remains could rest in U.S. soil. Then his children and I could experience tbe peace of knowing, and begin to close the long chapter of grief. But to grant burial with full military honors and a full size coffin to three front teeth would not only be ridiculous, but represent acquiescence in a lie.
Considering the above, I protest the closure of Harley's case in the strongest possible terms, and implore you to leave his name on the honored list of unaccounted for Americans, specifically of "focus" POW cases where he was listed in the first place. (Otherwise, his name will wrongfully appear on the "remains returned" list, and many thoughtful Americans will assume that this notorious case is finally resolved/settled.) To do otherwise on the basis of incomplete and misleading "remains" of three teeth is a travesty and an affront to the truth, as well as yet another blow to the families, who have fought so valiantly (and had their faith so badly shaken) in this cause. This is the least you owe to the men who served and those of us who have paid so high a price.
(signed) Mary Louise Hall, Wife Capt. Harley H. Hall USN 549-50-3460
NETWORK NOTE: As of March 1998, Capt. Harley Hall is still listed by the United States Government as "remains returned."
From: "Barrett Tillman" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Cdr. Harley Hall Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 21:32:20 +0000
Gentlemen: Congratulations on your excellent site. It belatedly occurs to me that you may be interested in the following article I wrote for The Hook Magazine in 1999.
Sincerely, Barrett Tillman
|Hope flies high for pilot
Saturday, January 26, 2008
35 years after Harley Hall was shot down, some family members believe he's still alive
Gwen Davis was getting ready for church in Vancouver in 1973 when the telephone rang. She learned that her brother Harley Hall's F-4J Phantom fighter jet had been shot down on the last day of combat in the Vietnam War. He was missing.....
Dean Baker writes about military affairs. Reach him at 360-759-8009 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
09/2011 New Book – Left Alive to Die by Susan Keen tells the story of Blue Angels leader Capt. Harley Hall. Shot down hours before the signing of the Paris Peace Accords on January 27th, 1973, Hall and his backseater, Philip Kientzler ejected and landed safely. Kientzler was among the 591 POWs returned during Operation Homecoming. The Vietnamese provided no information on Hall or his fate. In 1993, 3 teeth were identified as the mortal remains of Capt. Hall. NAF