DALE, CHARLES ALVA
Name: Charles Alva Dale
Rank/Branch: 02/US Army
Unit: 73rd Aviation Company, 765th Transportation Battalion
Date of Birth: 05 May 1937 (Churchill TN)
Home City of Record: Phoenix AZ
Date of Loss: 09 June 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 093514N 1062201E (XR035296)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: David S. Demmon (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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: DISAPPEARED OVER VINH BIHN
SYNOPSIS: At 0317 hours on June 9, 1965, 1Lt. Charles A. Dale, pilot; and
SP4 David S. Demmon, electronic sensor operator, departed Vung Tau in an
OV1C (serial #61-2687) on a mission. The nature of the mission is not
included in public record, but was undoubtedly a standard battlefield
surveillance mission, or, as the 765th Transportation Battalion was
primarily aircraft maintenance and support, it might have been a test of
equipment onboard the aircraft.
The OV1C maintained surveillance using infrared detection equipment and a
forward-aimed camera (which proved especially useful since the Viet Cong
relied heavily on darkness to conceal their activities).
Standard proceedure for the OV1C was to periodically fly over a known
location to update the navigation computer. One such update, about 87
minutes after takeoff placed Dale and Demmon over Vung Tau. At this time, he
was headed to a second mission area in Vinh Binh Province, South Vietnam.
Somewhere over the U Minh forest, the aircraft was shot down. Search and
rescue forces sighted two men wading out of the water and the Viet Cong
capturing them, but positive identification was prevented by weather.
However, Demmon and Dale were the only two Americans shot down that dayu.
Dale was declared Missing in Action, while Demmon was classified Prisoner of
War. It was felt that the enemy knew the fates of both men, alive or dead.
Reports relating to Dale and Demmon were received as late as 1970, both
together and separately. Both men were seen alive by intelligence sources in
the hands of the Viet Cong. One defector provided the phoenetic name "Phyan
De Mann", which translates to "Family name of De Manh" (possibly meaning
In 1971, Demmon was seen alive in captivity. A Viet Cong guard, who stated
that he had guarded American POWs from September to December 1965, stated he
saw two men he believed to be Demmon and Dale in his camp. The families of
both men believed they were captured, and eagerly awaited their release at
the end of the war.
When the war ended, however, and 591 Americans were released from communist
prisons in Souteast Aisa, Dale and Demmon were not among them. The
Vietnamese never acknowledged their existence, nor did their names appear on
lists provided by the Vietnamese of prisoners who had died in captivity.
In 1987, evidence of a large number of Americans being held in China began
to surface in the private sector. It was said that these Americans were the
"property" of a number of pro-China Vietnamese officials who had fled
Vietnam in the wake of a stronger national sympathy to the Soviet Union.
Charles Alva Dale, it was said, was serving as a houseboy to one of these
The reports could not be verified. Dale and Demmon's families still wonder
where they are. They don't know whether to hope they died that day in June
1965, or to hope they survived, and are alive still. If they survived, what
must they have gone through? And what must they think of the country they so
Charles A. Dale was promoted to the rank of Major and Demmon to the rank of
Staff Sergeant during the period they were maintained Missing and Prisoner.