HUNTER, RUSSELL PALMER, JR.
Name: Russell Palmer Hunter, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 13th Bombing Squadron, Da Nang AFB SV
Date of Birth: 23 May 1935
Home City of Record: Glastonbury CT
Date of Loss: 10 February 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 164200N 1062100E (XD413458)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Ernest P. Kiefel (missing)
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.
SYNOPSIS: The B57 Canberra bomber was dispatched to Vietnam in response to
the Tonkin Gulf incident in the summer of 1964. Although the upgrading of
Vietnamese anti-aircraft and ground attacks made the B57 vulnerable after a
time, it still proved valuable as a light bomber, and in interdiction
missions over Laos.
Capt. Russell P. Hunter Jr. was the pilot of a B57B Canberra sent on an
night strike mission over Laos on February 10, 1966. His navigator/co-pilot
was Capt. Ernest P. Kiefel Jr., an Air Force officer with 16 years service.
The two men were assigned to the 13th Bombing Squadron based at Da Nang,
(NOTE: Some records indicate that these two men were based in the
Philippines. It is possible that they were on a short-duty tour from a unit
in the Philippines and working with the 13th Bombing Squadron.)
Hunter's aircraft was on its second pass over a target on the Ho Chi Minh
Trail when Hunter reported he was having difficulty with the aircraft and
the crew members were bailing out. Neither Hunter nor Kiefel were found
after the aircraft went down. Their last known location was about 5 miles
east of the city of Sepone in Savannakhet Province.
(NOTE: Air Force records state "the crew members were bailing out," which
can be misinterpreted unless one understands that the Canberra was a two-man
aircraft. The crew, in this case, consisted of Hunter and Kiefel only.)
What happened to Hunter and Kiefel is not known. They are among nearly 600
Americans who disappeared in the "secret war" in Laos and never returned.
When 591 Americans were released from prisons in Vietnam in 1973 at the end
of the war, not one American held by the Lao was among them. No treaty or
agreement has been signed to secure their release since that day, although
the Lao stated publicly that they held prisoners and would release them only
from Laos. There is ample reason to believe that the Vietnamese and/or the
Communist Lao know what happened to Hunter and Kiefel on December 29, 1967.
There have been nearly 10,000 reports given to the U.S. Government relating
to Americans prisoner, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast
Asia. Many officials who have seen this largely classified information have
reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans are still alive in
captivity today. Whether Hunter and Kiefel might be among them is unknown.
What is certain, however, is that as long as even one man remains held
against his will in Indochina, we must do everything possible to bring him
Both Hunter and Kiefel were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
during the period they were maintained missing.