COPACK, JOSEPH BERNARD JR. Remains Returned 15 December 1988 - ID Announced 23 June 1989 Name: Joseph Bernard Copack, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force, NAV Unit: 307th Strategic Wing, Utapao Airfield, Thailand Date of Birth: 04 August 1947 Home City of Record: Chicago IL Loss Date: 22 December 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 212500N 1062500E (WJ866264) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D Other Personnel In Incident: Thomas W. Bennett; (missing); Peter Camerota, Peter Giroux; Louis E. LeBlanc (all three returned POWs in 1973); Gerald W. Alley (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 April 1990 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. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Frustrated by problems in negotiating a peace settlement, and pressured by a Congress and public wanting an immediate end to American involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon ordered the most concentrated air offensive of the war - known as Linebacker II - in December 1972. During the offensive, sometimes called the "Christmas bombings," 40,000 tons of bombs were dropped, primarily over the area between Hanoi and Haiphong. White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said that the bombing would end only when all U.S. POWs were released and an internationally recognized cease-fire was in force. In early December 1972, several men stationed at Utapao, Thailand sent Christmas presents home and readied themselves for a few final runs they would have to make before Christmas. They were looking forward to returning to Thailand in time to see Bob Hope on December 22. They never saw Bob Hope, and none of them returned for Christmas. On December 22, a B52D crew consisting of Capt. Thomas W. Bennett, co-pilot; LtCol. Gerald W. Alley; Capt. Peter P. Camerota, bombardier; 1Lt. Joseph B. Copack, Jr., navigator; Capt. Peter J. Giroux, pilot; and MSgt. Louis E. LeBlanc, tailgunner; departed Utapao on a bombing mission over Hanoi. When the B52D was about 50 miles northwest of Hanoi, it was hit by Surface to Air Missiles (SAM). Bennett called the mayday and manually ejected the pilot, who had blacked out and then bailed out himself. The tailgunner later reported that he observed in the bright moonlight that the entire crew of six had deployed parachutes. Three of them, Camerota, Giroux and LeBlanc were released from prisoner of war camps in Hanoi a few months later in the general prisoner release of 1973. The U.S. was not expecting them. They had not known that the three were being held prisoner. Alley, Copack and Bennett were not released and remained Missing in Action. During the month of December, 62 crewmembers of B52 aircraft were shot down and captured or went missing. Of these 62, 33 men were released in 1973. The remains of about a dozen more have been returned over the years, and the rest are still missing. At least 10 of those missing survived to eject safely. Where are they? As reports mounted following the war convinced many authorities that hundreds of Americans were still held captive in Southeast Asia, many families wonder if their men were among those said to be still alive in captivity, and are frustrated at inadequate efforts by the U.S. Government to get information on their men. On June 23, 1989, the U.S. announced that the Vietnamese had "discovered" the remains of Gerald W. Alley and Josepg B. Copack and had sent them home at last. For 17 years, Alley and Copack - alive or dead - were prisoners in enemy hands. Their families at last know for certain that their sons are dead. What they may never know, however, is how - and when - they died, and if they knew that their country had abandoned them. Gerald W. Alley was promoted to the rank of Colonel, Thomas W. Bennett was promoted to the rank of Major and Joseph B. Copack was promoted to the rank of Captain during the period they were maintained missing.