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.

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01/2020

https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaProfile?id=a0Jt0000000BTYZEA4

COL ERNST PHILIP KIEFEL JR.

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On February 10, 1966, a B-57B Canberra (tail number 52-1575) took off from Da Nang Airbase, Vietnam, carrying two crew members and flying with a C-130 flare aircraft on a night strike mission over Laos. As the flight neared Ban Vangthon, Laos, the pilot radioed that he observed light and would drop down to investigate its source. While checking out the light source as a possible target, the Canberra was hit by enemy ground fire. The Canberra's pilot radioed that he was in trouble and he and his other crew member would eject. The C-130's crew soon observed the Canberra impact with the ground near east of Sepone, Savannakhet Province, Laos. Search and rescue forces later located the wreckage, but there was no trace of its two crew members and their fate was unknown.

Captain Ernst Philip Kiefel Jr. entered the U.S. Air Force from Pennsylvania and was a member of the 13th Bombardment Squadron. He was the navigator and bombardier aboard this Canberra when it crashed on February 10, 1966, and was lost with the aircraft. He remains unaccounted-for. While carried in the status of missing in action, the U.S. Air Force promoted Capt Kiefel to the rank of Colonel (Col). Today, Colonel Kiefel is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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