Remains Returned April 1985
Name: Cleveland Scott Harris
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 11 May 1941
Home City of Record: Birmingham AL
Date of Loss: 29 February 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205500N 1054600E (WJ797129)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105F
Other Personnel in Incident: Crosley J. Fitton (remains returned)
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. NETWORK.
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. Crosley J. Fitton, Jr. was the pilot and Capt. Cleveland S. Harris was the
co-pilot of an F105F which was one in a flight of four F105s sent on a combat
mission on the outskirts of Hanoi on February 29, 1968.
During the mission, the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM).
Others in the flight observed both Fitton and Harris bail out with good
parachutes. The flight leader tracked both on radar and picked up both emergency
radio beeper signals. The beepers, which must be manually shut off, stopped
shortly after the crewmen landed on the ground.
Although Fitton and Harris landed safely on the ground, it was not certain what
happened to them after that. Both were declared Missing in Action. Their
families resigned themselves to the long wait.
In the spring of 1973, 591 American POWs were released by the Vietnamese, but
Harris and Fitton were not among them. Military officials expressed their dismay
at the time that hundreds of men known or suspected to be prisoners were not
In 1975, the Vietnamese discovered and returned the remains of Crosley J.
Fitton. It was another ten years before Harris was to return. His remains were
turned over to U.S. control in April of 1985.
Nearly 2500 Americans did not return from the war in Vietnam. Thousands of
reports have been received indicating that some hundreds remain alive in
captivity. As in the case of Fitton and Harris, Vietnam and her communist allies
can account for most of them. Current "negotiations" between the U.S. and
Vietnam have yielded the remains of nearly 300 Americans. The families of these
men at last have the peace of knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead.
In the total view of the issue of the missing, however, the return of remains
signals no progress. In the early 1980's the very credible Congressional
testimony of a Vietnamese mortician indicated that the Vietnamese are in
possession of over 400 sets of remains. In 15 years, they have returned barely
half of them. More importantly, the same credible witness, whose testimony is
believed throughout Congress, stated that he had seen live Americans held at the
same location where the remains were stored.
As long as even one American remains alive in captivity in Solutheast Asia, the
only issue is that one living man. We must bring them home before there are only
remains to negotiate for.