MORGAN, CHARLES ELZY Remains Returned 31 July 1989, ID Announced 6 April 1990 Name: Charles Elzy Morgan Rank/Branch: O3/USAF Unit: Date of Birth: 10 January 1932 Home City of Record: Rancho Cordova CA Date of Loss: 06 July 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212957N 1054437E (WJ776774) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F Refno: Other Personnel in Incident: Roosevelt Hestle (missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 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: NO CHUTE-BEEPER OR SAR SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was constantly under revision. The F model carried a second crewman which made it well suited for the role of suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses. Maj. Roosevelt L. Hestle, Jr. was the pilot and Capt. Charles E. Morgan the backseater onboard an F105F sent on a mission over North Vietnam on July 6, 1966. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire about 35 miles north-northwest of Hanoi, and evidently hit the side of a mountain. No parachutes were observed, and no emergency beepers were detected. Search and Rescue was not initiated. Although the outlook was grim, neither man was declared Killed/Body Not Recovered, but instead, both were classified Missing In Action. One night NBC evening news aired footage from a press conference held in Hanoi. Hestle's wife recognized her husband in the footage as the camera panned across a group of American POWs and lingered on him. Hestle, a black man, had a bad case of chicken pox as an adult, and his scarred face was quite recognizable. Mrs. Hestle went to the NBC studios in Burbank, California and had them rerun the film on a big screen so she could make doubly sure that it was indeed her husband. She was convinced. Mrs. Hestle waited, confident that her husband would return at the end of the war. When the general prisoner release occurred in 1973, however, the U.S. received some surprises. Some men whom intelligence analysts were certain had perished with their planes had survived to be released. Of greater surprise, perhaps, was that hundreds of Americans expected to return had not. Morgan and Hestle had never been declared prisoners, but it was thought the Vietnamese could account for both of them. The biggest surprise came when Vietnam was overrun by communist forces, and Vietnamese refugees began to flood the world. These refugees brought with them thousands of reports of Americans still in captivity in their homeland. In early 1990, the numbers of such reports amassed to "millions of documents" and resulted in thousands of interviews. Still, no solution has been found to secure the freedom of any who may be still alive. Mrs. Hestle kept looking for information. Seven released POWs called her to say they had seen her husband in camp, and to rest assured he would come home soon. Still, he didn't show up. When the prisoner release was over, Mrs. Hestle approached the Defense Department and inquired about her husband. She was told that she was mistaken, that she must have seen one of the other two black airmen shot down, Cherry or McDaniel. After all, DOD said, all blacks look alike. When Mrs. Hestle told them seven POWs had seen her husband, they said they weould look into the matter. When DOD recontacted her, they told Mrs. Hestle the witnesses had changed their stories and now said they were mistaken. Mrs. Hestle checked with the seven as well as the other two black airmen, Cherry and McDaniel. The seven POWs said they had done no such thing; they maintained Hestle had been held with them. Cherry and McDaniel said they had not been present when the newsfilm was shot. Besides, Hestle was a full six inches taller than Cherry or McDaniel. His pock marks made him very distinctive and he did not closely resemble anyone else. On July 31, 1989, the Vietnamse returned remains to U.S. control which were subsequently positively identified as being those of Capt. Charles E. Morgan. For nearly 25 years, Morgan was a prisoner of war - dead or alive. Many authorities who have examined the evidence now believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, captives of our long-ago enemy. Certainly, there are hundreds of Americans the Vietnamese can account for -- including several score known to have been prisoners but never returned. The Defense Department never acknowledged that Hestle was captured in spite of seven eye-witness reports from American POWs and Mrs. Hestle's identification. Hestle, a talented engineer, would be a very useful captive to the Vietnamese. As long as even one American is unjustly held, we owe him our very best efforts to secure his freedom. Roosevelt Hestle could still be alive, wondering why his country has abandoned him. Charles E. Morgan was promoted to the rank of Major and Roosevelt L. Hestle, Jr. to the rank of Colonel during the period they were maintained Missing in Action.