BITTENBENDER, DAVID FRITZ
Name: David Fritz Bittenbender
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 2nd Bombardment Squadron
Date of Birth: 27 July 1940
Home City of Record: Niagara Falls NY
Date of Loss: 07 July 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 094357N 1065858E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: William J. Crumm; Paul A. Avolese; on second
B52: Charles H. Blankenship; George E. Jones; Olen B. McLaughlin (all
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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.
REMARKS: AIR COLLISION - 7 RESC - N SUBJ - J
SYNOPSIS: Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers have long been the Air Force's
most important strategic bomber. Used heavily in Vietnam, the venerable
aircraft continued its role throughout the Southeast Asia conflict and
played an important role in the Persian Gulf war two decades later.
On July 7, 1967, two B52 aircraft were enroute to a combat mission when they
collided in mid-air over the South China Sea. The aircraft were
approximately 20 miles offshore at the point of Vinh Binh Province when the
accident occurred. Seven crewmembers from the aircraft were rescued, but
Avolese, Crumm, Bittenbender, Blankenship, Jones, and McLaughlin were not.
All the missing crewmen onboard the two B52 downed that day were believed to
be dead. It is unfortunate, but a cold reality of war that their remains
were not recoverable. They are listed with honor among the missing because
their remains cannot be buried with honor at home.
Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were
in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.
Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those
who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several
million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to
agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be
far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive
home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.
Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still
alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still
classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the
secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?
Major General William J. Crumm is the highest-ranking man missing.