CAPPELLI, CHARLES EDWARD Remains Returned December 15, 1988, Identified May 5, 1989 Name: Charles Edward Cappelli Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force Unit: 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. REMARKS: GOOD CHUTE 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.