Apocaca, Victor J. Jr.

I.D. DISPUTED See 3 stories below.

Name: Victor Joe Apodaca, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/USAF
Unit: 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 366 TFW Danang, South Vietnam
Date of Birth: 31 May 1937
Home City of Record: Englewood CO
Date of Loss: 08 June 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 173900N 1061600E (XE343517)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C

Other Personnel in Incident: Jon T. Busch (remains returned)
Refno: 0727


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 2007 with
information from the National Alliance of Families.  2020

SYNOPSIS: On the evening of June 8, 1967, two F4C Phantom planes departed Da
Nang Airbase on an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Hambone 1
took the lead, followed about a mile behind by Hambone 2, commanded by Capt.
Victor Apodaca, Jr. and flown by Capt. Jon T. Busch. The two aircraft were
flying at an altitude of about 4500 feet over a river valley with rolling to
mountainous terrain about 22 miles northeast of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam.

Hambone 1 radioed Hambone 2 that he was encountering heavy and accurate ground
fire. Fifteen seconds later, Apodaca acknowledged the warning and reported that
his aircraft had been hit. Hambone 1 advised Apodaca to exit the area and head
for the coast (where a safer at-sea rescue could occur). Moments later, Hambone
2 reported that it was experiencing control and hydraulics problems. The last
message from Hambone 2 gave the direction of the aircraft and its altitude,
which was 16,000 feet.

Seconds later, emergency signals were received for about 25 seconds, but it was
not possible to determine whether one or two radio signals were broadcasting,
nor could the precise point of origination be determined. Hambone 1, critically
low on fuel, was forced to return to base.

An electronic search was conducted, but suspended due to darkness, bad weather
and heavy anti-aircraft fire. During the search, no electronic or visual
contact was made and no evidence of the aircraft was found.

The Air Force told the families they could not determine whether or not the men
survived. Neither man was among the prisoners released in 1973 from Vietnam,
and the Hanoi government denies any knowledge of them for 20 years.

On November 12, 1973, a refugee reported the death of an American airman which
occurred in Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam at about 1500
hours one day in June 1967. According to the report, a U.S. F4 jet flying with
about five other jets bombing a bridge on Route 1A was hit by 37mm
anti-aircraft fire, crashed into Doi Troc Hill in Chanh Hoa II village. The
source further stated that an airman bailed out and landed in a forest near the
same village. At about 1530 hours, the refugee went to where the airman landed
and saw his body lying in the grass. He was told by villagers that
approximately 10 minutes after the airman had landed, militiamen from the
village found him hiding in a bamboo thicket and captured him. The villagers
then watched as the militiamen beat the American to death with hoes and bamboo

The refugee said he observed the dead American for about 10 minutes from a
distance of about 5 meters. He described the airman as a caucasian, about 45
years old, 5' 11" tall, weighing about 220 pounds with fair complexion, short
blonde hair, a moustache about one centimeter long and a heavy beard. He was
unable to identify the airman from photos of the missing. JCRC correlated the
report to the Busch/Apodaca incident.

In the spring of 1988, remains identified as Jon Busch, a burned map, three
pieces of bone (which were identified as non-human by a Vietnamese
anthropologist) and a charred and battered nameplate bearing Apodaca's name
were returned to Presidential Envoy General John Vessey.

Busch's remains were positively identified by the U.S. Army Central
Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, based largely on the correlation of the
refugee report, which evidently matched information given over by the
Vietnamese with the remains. The status of "Box 19", which purportedly hold the
effects of Victor Apodaca Jr, are still unknown to his family.

There are serious discrepancies in the refugee report as it relates to Busch
and Apodaca. Jon Busch has red hair, not blonde. Vic Apodaca has black hair.
Both men were clean shaven, and were forbidden by the Air Force to grow a
beard. The Hambone flight departed at 5 p.m. in the evening, while the CIA
report claimed the airman was killed at 3:30 p.m. just following his landing.
The Hambone flight, while armed, was not involved in a bombing mission at all.
Jon Busch was declared dead in 1967. Victor Apodaca was declared dead three
days after the CIA received the refugee report.

The Apodaca family was never given the report by the U.S. Government. They
discovered the report through a Freedom of Information Act request they filed
in 1985. To many observers, there is a serious problem with the identification
of these remains. Many will retain Jon Busch on the lists of missing because
the discrepancies are too outrageous to make the correlation possible.

Jon Busch and Vic Apodaca are two of nearly 2500 Americans who were declared
missing in Southeast Asia. Thousands of reports add to the evidence that
perhaps hundreds of them are still held prisoner of war. Perhaps Jon and Vic
died on the day of the crash of their aircraft. But, perhaps they did not. If
the remains returned are not Jon Busch's, who will be looking for him? Not the
U.S. Government. His case is officially closed. Vic Apodaca's family wants the
truth. His sister Dolores says, "I won't just let them bury his memory based on
some report with that many discrepancies. It's been 22 years, but none of us
are so tired that we'll drop this without a fight."

Victor Joe Apodaca, Jr. was appointed to the Air Force Academy in 1957. He was
the first Spanish/American/Navajo Indian to attend the Academy.

Victor's sister, Dolores Alfond, heads the national organzation out of
Washington State, the National Alliance of Families for the Return of
America's Missing Servicemen.


{National Alliance of Families}

Remains currently under consideration for designation as Air Force Capt.
Victor J. Apodaca have a questionable history.   In 1988, the Vietnamese
unilaterally repatriated remains designated Victor Apodaca.

In April of 1989, the Vietnamese, once again, repatriated remains
designated Victor Apodaca.

The Comprehensive Case Review, prepared by the Defense POW/MIA Office
(DPMO) in 1995, referenced both remains repatriations.   Of the 1988
repatriation, DPMO states "SRV unilaterally repatriated remains of
Busch (backseater), plus box alleged to contain Apodaca remains.  Also
turned over at the time was a mutilated dogtag of Apodaca and a map.
SRV forewarned U.S. that Apodaca remains were believed to be non-human.
Busch remains were identified; CIL-HI confirmed that Apodaca remains
were non-human."

Of the 1989 repatriation, DPMO stated "unilateral repatriation
included container alleged to contain Apodaca remains SRV said remains
were acquired for HCM City (Ho Chi Minh City) smuggler by Public
Security.  Remains determined to be human race undetermined. Nothing
else.  Remains held at CIL pending future repatriations.  No indication
why SRV associated remains with Apodaca."

"Remains determine to be be human, race undetermined"; was not what the
Commander of the Joint Casualty Resolution Center said.
According to message traffic, dated September 22, 1989, the  Commander
of  JCRC stated:


Animal bones in 1989...
Human bones in 1995....
Tested for an mt-DNA match in 1997....

No explanation has been offered to the Apodaca family regarding the
transformation of animal bones to human bones.


National Alliance of Families
June 30, 2001
Bits N Pieces

From The Sisters of Major Victor Apodaca - Some of you may have seen a
recent article, circulated by email, discussing the identification of
remains as our brother, Major Victor Apodaca.  On May 15th, our nephew, as
primary next of kin, accepted remains, purported to be Victor's.  His
sisters, Dolores Apodaca Alfond, Eleanor Apodaca,  Joyce Apodaca, and
Janella Apodaca Rose, our children, and grandchildren  have not accepted
this identification.  The so-called evidence used to support the
government's identification, is no more than the word of a Vietnamese
remains trader. There is no other evidence and the government admits this.

The following is a Letter to the Editor, of the Tuscaloosa newspaper, in
response to their article: "We read your article  titled "Finally at Rest:
DNA match helps Tuscaloosa man redeem memories of  father who died in
Vietnam" by Matt Ehlers with great interest.   Unfortunately,  Mr. Ehlers
article was sorely lacking in some major facts.

We strongly question the identification of three small bones as the remains
of our brother, Victor J. Apodaca, Jr., based on the following facts:

The remains were seized from a remains trader, many miles from the loss

No evidence exists to associate these remains to the Apodaca crash site.

In spite of best efforts JTF-FA recovered no personal effects or human
remains from the crash site.

There is no chain of custody for the remains.

FBI testing could not confirm the authenticity of the dog tag, which may,
in fact, be fake.

No evidence exists to associate dog tag to crash site.

No evidence exists to associate the dog tag to the remains subjected to
mt-DNA testing.

No evidence exists to suggest these remains are those Victor J. Apodaca Jr.

By Oct. 2000, the bone and the Apodaca blood sample matched 5 others in the
mt-DNA database.

CILHI, AFDIL and Mortuary are using mt-DNA as the primary or sole means of
identification, in this case, violating their stated policy.

We have no closure because we have no truth.   All we have are more

The Sisters of Major Victor J. Apodaca, Jr.
Dolores Apodaca Alfond     Eleanor Apodaca
Joyce Apodaca           Janella Apodaca Rose


UPDATE LINE: June 29, 2001
Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line.

This message is being recorded Friday, June 29th. According to the
Department of Defense, the number of Americans missing and unaccounted for
from the Vietnam War is 1,973.

On June 20th, the League was informed that six Americans were recently
accounted for. David W. Morrill and Maxim C. Parker, both USMC, were
jointly recovered in South Vietnam June 9, 1993.

The remains of Victor J. Apodaca, Jr., USAF, were repatriated April 27,

The November 14, 1991 joint recovery of the remains of Harry A. Amesbury,
Jr., USAF, brought an accepted identification.

And, the remains of Harley B. Pyles, USAF, and Winfield Wade Sisson, USMC,
were jointly recovered in South Vietnam on April 8, 1993.

The accounting for these six US personnel brings the number now missing and
unaccounted for in Vietnam to 1,481, with 417 in Laos, 67 in Cambodia and 8
in the territorial waters of the PRC.  Over 90% of the 1,973 Americans
still missing from the Vietnam War were lost in areas under Vietnam's
wartime control.



Dolores Alfond 425-881-1499
Lynn O'Shea 718-846-4350
Web Site http://www.nationalalliance.org
Email lynnpowmia@prodigy.net

March 2, 2002                      Bits N Pieces


Animal Bones or Human   No one has ever explained how bones determined to be
animal where finally identified as Air Force Major Victor Apodaca.

Remains purported to be those of Victor Apodaca were returned, by the
Vietnamese on July 13th 1998.  According to a memo dated 9 March 2000 and
signed by Thomas D. Holland, PhD, DABFA, Scientific Director at CI-HI
states: "Documents supplied by the S.R.V. indicated that the remains
accessioned as CILHI 131-88  were those of "Busch John T." [sic] while those
accessioned as CILHI 0132-88 were those of "Apodaca Victor J., Jr....."

"... The latter accession included an identification tag for "Apodaca Victor
J. Jr.  Subsequent laboratory analysis demonstrated that the remains
attributed to Maj. Apodaca, i.e., CILHI 0132-88, were in fact non-human."

The Vietnamese tried again to repatriate remains purported to be Victor
Apodaca on April 27th 1989 -A  9 March 2001 report states; "Based on
unilateral research, the S.R.V. associated the remains in Box 19 with
"Apodaca Victor."

 The determination of the remains, from the second repatriation, as human is
 confusing.  Of this second remains repatriation, a September 8th 1989
 message regarding "ID Status - Remains from SRV" states Box 19 contained
 "no teeth and consist of two portions of left hip bone and one portion of a
 talus (foot) bone.  The age of the individual represented can only be
 assessed as adult. Nothing else can be determined.  The box also contained
 nine non-human mammalian bone fragments and eight unidentifiable bone
 fragments which may be of human origin."

However, a Sept. 22nd 1989 message states: "Apodaca, Victor J. Jr; 0727
Quang Binh: recovered from remains dealers.  Repatriated to the U.S. twice
with dog tag.  The U.S. side reports the remains were animal bones." (Note
this is misleading in that the dog tag was not repatriated with the remains
but were handed over with a group of dog tags and had no association with
any remains.")

A document located in the file of another servicemen sheds more light on the
question of animal or human bones relating to Major Apodaca.  Originated by
the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the message is dated 04 Feb. 1991.
Its subject is "Response to Vietnamese Request for Information on
Repatriated Remains."  The message directed to JCRC (Joint Casualty
Resolution Center - predecessor of the Joint Task Force - Full Accounting -
JTF-FA) Liaison Bangkok TH, reads as follows:

"1. During the course of the early January information/research meetings in
Hanoi, the Vietnamese requested a detailed statistical summary of the status
of repatriated remains focusing on identification."

"2. The IAG (Inter Agency Group) requests that JCRC/LNO provide the
following information to the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
using the talking points specified below:"

"Begin Talking Points:    During the early January information/research
meeting in Hanoi the delegation led by Dang Nghien Bai requested and
up-to-date statistical account of identification from the remains which
Vietnam has repatriated to the custody of the United States from March 1974
to 20 November 1990."

"This document prepared by CILHI, responds to that request...."

Prepared by CILHI, that's important to remember.

The text of the document reads : "During the period from 6 March 1974 to 20
November 1990 remains were repatriated on 32 different occasions."

"  A total of 432 boxes containing 451 remains were transferred by Vietnam
to the custody of the United States."

"  Out of that number, the remains of two hundred and fifty eight (258) U.S.
and third country nationals have been identified and accounted for.
Bartsch, case number 1433 was a German civilian."

"  Seventy one (71) sets or remains were determined to be of Asian Mongoloid
origin.  Fifty eight (58) of these  71 remains have been returned to Vietnam
Thirteen (13) remains will be ready for return to Vietnam during the next

"   Three remains were determined to be of non-human origin.  The VNOSMP
associated those three cases with case number 1955 (B-52 incident with four
bodies not recovered (BNR), case number 0727 (Apodaca), and case number 0459

So in February of 1990 the CILHI position was that remains repatriated as
Apodaca were that they were non- human.   Nowhere is there a document
stating that  anyone at CILHI made an error in their original determination
that the bones were non-human.  There is no explanation as to how the bones
once determined to  be non-human became human or how a trained
anthropologist could have mistaken them as non-human.

There is more, but we will save it for another time.   All we can say is....
it doesn't bode well......


December 2, 2007

It saddens me to inform our members and friends of the passing of David Alfond, husband of National Alliance of Families Chairperson Dolores Alfond. David passed late last night of complications from open heart surgery.

During their more than 40 years of marriage, David was a constant support both emotionally and financially of Dolores’ POW/MIA efforts. Few know that years ago, he and Dolores traveled to Thailand so that Dolores could visit a refugee camp in search of POW/MIA information. During the early years of the Alliance, David supplied much of our financial backing. Once able to exist on our own, David continued to manage our books and offer guidance.

I only met David once but we got to know each other over many years of phone conversations. David had a wonderful New England accent. He was a gentleman with a great sense of humor, who never took himself seriously. We had great conversations, especially during baseball season. David was a rabid Red Sox fan, and I as many of you know am a rabid Yankee fan. We also shared a great appreciation for Lox and all types of smoked salmon.

Simply stated, he was a very good person.

Services will be held in Boston on Thursday. Cards of condolence may be sent to:

Dolores Alfond

c/o National Alliance of Families

P.O. Box 40327

Bellevue, WA. 98015


Lynn O'Shea


It is with profound sadness we inform you of the passing of Dolores Apodaca Alfond, Chairperson and founding member of the National Alliance of Families.    Dolores passed peacefully, very early this morning (December 2nd.)
Dolores came to the POW/MIA issue the day her brother Victor was shot down over North Vietnam, on June 8, 1967.  After the Vietnam War, she quietly worked on her brother’s behalf.  During her travels she, along with her husband David and son Michael visited Thailand.   There they met with U.S. officials to discuss the POW issue and visited the refugee camps in search of information on our missing men.
Her private effort went public in June of 1990, when she joined with POW/MIA families from World War II, Korea, Cold War, and the War in Southeast Asia to form the National Alliance of Families.   In what can only be described as an uphill battle, Dolores made the Alliance a respected and honest advocated for our missing men and their families.
Over the last 20 years, she dedicated her life to our unaccounted for POWs and MIAs.  She worked tirelessly, feeding stories to the media, working the phones, writing letters, walking the halls of Congress and testifying before various Congressional Committees.   She made it her life’s work to bring the issue of our POWs and MIAs to the public and hold Washington accountable for their return.
Protesting the plan to lift the trade embargo against Vietnam, Dolores joined with POW/MIA family members Ann Holland, wife of T/Sgt Melvin Holland and Kathy Borah, sister of Lt. Dan Borah and Vietnam Vet Jerry Birch for a 30 day protest fast.  Spending their days in a bamboo cage, the four existed on the POW diet of soup and rice.
Even in her last days, she continued to ask in conversations with Lynn O’Shea “what can we do to get the POW/MIA issue moving again” or “what’s happening with H.Res 111.”  She never gave up her hope that one day an American POW would return from Southeast Asia, North Korea, China or the former Soviet Union.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the National Alliance of Families, and our Research Director Lynn O’Shea, we extend our deepest sympathy to Dolores’ son Michael, daughter-in-law Barbara, grandchildren Brandon and Rachel, sisters Eleanor, Joyce, Janella and the entire Apodaca-Alfond family.
Dolores will be sorely missed.
Cards and notes of sympathy may be sent to:
Michael Alfond
P. O. Box 725
Marysville, WA  98270


Lynn O'Shea
Director of Research
National Alliance of Families
for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen
World War II - Korea - Cold War - Vietnam - Gulf Wars - Afghanistan

Dolores Alfond’s Obituary by the The Seattle Times.



The 5-minute video (attached) is by Robert Apodaca, the son of an AF Academy graduate (Vic Apodaca) who was shot down in Vietnam in the 1960s.  He had been flying an F-4.

I think you will like the message in the video.  As a side note, Vic was a full-blooded American Indian, the first to attend our Air Force Academy.







Return to Service Member Profiles

On March 9, 2001, the Central Identification Lab-Hawaii (CILHI, now DPAA) identified the remains of Major Victor Joe Apodaca Jr., missing from the Vietnam War.

Major Apodaca, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Colorado, served with 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. On June 8, 1967, he served as the aircraft commander on board an F-4C Phantom II (serial number 63-7425) on an armed reconnaissance mission over Quang Binh Province in North Vietnam. During the mission, the Phantom was shot down and Maj Apodaca was killed. Hostile presence in the area inhibited search efforts after the crash. In 1989, a joint U.S./Vietnamese investigative team recovered remains which were later identified as those of Maj Apodaca.

Major Apodaca is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.