Remains Returned December 15, 1988, Identified May 5, 1989

Name: Charles Edward Cappelli
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 14 March 1930
Home City of Record: Providence RI
Date of Loss: 17 November 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204400N 1051300E (WH230940)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D
Refno: 0909
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)

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 1998.


SYNOPSIS: Charles Cappelli was the pilot of an F105D. This aircraft flew
more missions over North Vietnam than any other U.S. plane, but it also took
more losses. On November 17, 1969, Cappelli and his Thunderchief
fighter/bomber were also lost.

Cappelli was flying southwest of Hanoi in Hoi Bihn Province as part of an
expanded Rolling Thunder program when his plane was hit and went down.
Cappelli was observed ejecting and his parachute looked normal. That was the
last anyone knew of Charles Cappelli for the next 21 years.

When the war ended in 1973, 591 Americans were released from North
Vietnamese prisons, but Cappelli was not one of them. In fact, there are
nearly 2500 who remain missing.

There are several reasons why MIAs from the Vietnam war cannot be lumped, as
in prior wars, as unrecoverable. Although evidence suggests we left hundreds
of Americans alive in enemy hands from World War II, we lost many hundreds
of men over vast ocean. Aircraft ejection was vastly improved by the time we
fought in Vietnam. We did not have the rescue expertise in World War II that
we had in Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War, unlike World War II, was fought
over a relatively small area, making rescue and/or recovery much more
possible. Besides, the Vietnamese are so thrifty, that it was not uncommon
for entire villages to troop out to a downed plane and have it taken apart
by sundown and carried to their village. They were under orders to report to
Hanoi any information they obtained, and did. The Vietnamese held very
detailed records of our pilots. Anyone they captured was sent north to the
central government.

Cappelli's family understands that he did not simply disappear. They do not
know if he survived or not, but they know that someone has the answers. They
want to know what happened to him. If he is alive, they want him home.

NOTE: In December 1988, the Vietnamese returned the remains of Charles
Cappelli to U.S. control. These remains were positively identified by May
1989, at which the return was publicly announced. The Vietnamese held these
remains, or held Cappelli for just over 21 years.