Remains Returned 18 March 1977

Name: Elwyn Rex Capling
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 15 July 1930
Home City of Record: Detroit MI
Date of Loss: 19 September 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 170300NN 1065500E (YD120920)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F

Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project  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.


SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief (or "Thud") performed yoeman service on many
diversified missions in Southeast Asia. F105s flew more combat missions over
North Vietnam than any other USAF aircraft and consequently suffered the
heaviest losses in action.

Maj. Elwyn R. Capling was the pilot of an F105F aircraft sent on a mission in
North Vietnam on September 19, 1968. During the mission, Capling's aircraft was
shot down over Quang Binh Province. Other pilots in the flight observed Maj.
Capling's successful ejection and landing on the ground. By radio, Capling
reported his leg was broken and requested help. Because of the heavy
concentration of North Vietnamese forces in the immediate area, rescue attempts
were impossible.

Records on American military personnel were maintained in various government
agencies. Raw intelligence data from Southeast Asia frequently first found its
way into the files of the organization which came to be known as Joint Casualty
Resolution Center (JCRC). Many analysts believed JCRC records were the most
complete and authoritative, since they contained largely raw data without
benefit of much analytical "muddling".

In November 1973, JCRC received a cable from Defense Intelligence Agency which
was copied to various high stations, including CIA, the Secretary of State and
the White House. The cable stated JCRC should "take necessary action to delete
any references pertaining to PW [Prisoner of War] status and place members in a
new MIA code" the files of Capling and several others. Whether JCRC had positive
intelligence that indicated Capling had been captured is unknown.

Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports
relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in
Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having
examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that
many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy.

Whether Capling was actually captured by the enemy is not known. However, it is
clear that someone knows what happened to him between September 19, 1968 and the
time his remains were returned nearly 11 years later. It is also certain that as
long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we owe him our
very best efforts to bring him to freedom.