KIEFEL, ERNEST PHILIP JR. Name: Ernest Philip Kiefel, Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 13th Bombing Squadron, Da Nang AFB SV Date of Birth: 11 May 1933 Home City of Record: Harrisburg PA Date of Loss: 10 February 1966 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 164200N 1062100E (XD413458) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B57B Refno: 0250 Other Personnel In Incident: Russell P. Hunter (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. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: 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, South Vietnam. (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 home. Both Hunter and Kiefel were promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period they were maintained missing.