BARNETT, CHARLES EDWARD
Remains Returned November 3, 1988; Identified February 2, 1989
Name: Charles Edward Barnett
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 93, USS MIDWAY (CVA-41)
Date of Birth: 18 January 1935 (Eudora MS)
Home City of Record: Houston TX
Date of Loss: 23 May 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 201700N 1062500E (XH479432)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
REMARKS: BODY FELL IN FIELD - NHAN DAN
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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: Commander Charles E. Barnett was a pilot assigned to Attack
Squadron 93 onboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41). On May 23,
1972 at 12:00 p.m., Cdr. Barnett launched in his A7B "Corsair" aircraft as
the flight leader of a strike mission into Nam Dinh, North Vietnam. Cdr.
Barnett and his wingman preceeded the strike group to suppress the two known
active surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites.
As the strike group withdrew from their attack, Cdr. Barnett and his wingman
followed. At approximately 6-8 miles from the coast-out point, Cdr. Barnett
directed his wingman over the radio to increase his speed and maneuver.
Approximately twenty seconds later, he transmitted to his wingman that he
had an electronic indication of a SAM radar. The wingman heard no further
transmissions from him and lost sight of him. The wingman attempted to
contact Cdr. Barnett by radio but with negative results. The wingman
observed what appeared to be an aircraft crash site and a column of smoke
about five miles inland. Search and rescue efforts produced negative
According to the U.S. Navy, that is the end of the story. Commander Barnett
was maintained in a casualty status of Missing In Action, which was changed
administratively to Presumed Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered on June 15,
A Vietnamese publication called Nhan Dan reported that Commander Barnett's
body fell into a field from his crippled aircraft, but at the end of the
war, after having signing an agreement to release all prisoners and account
for as many missing as possible, the Vietnamese denied any knowledge of
On November 3, 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" they had the remains of
Commander Barnett and returned them to U.S. control. After going through the
identification process in the U.S., it was announced in early February 1988
that Commander Barnett had come home.
For over 16 years, the Vietnamese held Commander Barnett prisoner, whether
he was alive or dead. The U.S. government has received nearly 10,000 reports
relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia, and many authorities
believe that there are hundreds still alive. The U.S. has not been able to
secure the release of any living POW.
Charles Barnett's family no longer has to wait, wondering what happened to
him. But for nearly 2500 other American families, life goes on in uncertain
agony. And for the hundreds of American servicemen who may still be alive,
another day in captivity and abandonment passes.