Remains Returned 4 December 1985, ID Announced 1987

Name: William Elmo Powell
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 555th TFS
Date of Birth: 10 December 1942
Home City of Record: Gatesville TX
Date of Loss: 17 August 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 173457N 1061657E (XE361443)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D

Other Personnel in Incident: Arthur T. Hoffson (released POW)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 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 Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
planes around.

1LT William E. Powell was the pilot of an F4D assigned a combat mission over
North Vietnam on August 17, 1968. His Bombardier/Navigator on the flight was
1LT Arthur T. Hoffson.

During the mission, the aircraft was struck by enemy fire and the crew was
forced to eject from the plane. Hoffson, as backseater, ejected first,
according to procedure, and was captured by the Vietnamese. The fate of
William E. Powell was uncertain. He was declared Missing in Action.

(NOTE: The Defense Department gives specific loss coordinates for William E.
Powell, indicating that his loss location is known precisely. Since he was
declared Missing rather than Killed, it can be logically assumed that he did
not go down with the aircraft, but rather ejected safely.)

When Arthur T. Hoffson was released with 590 other Americans in Operation
Homecoming in the spring of 1973, Powell was not with him. The Vietnamese
denied any knowledge of William E. Powell.

Then in late 1985, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned to U.S. control
the remains of William E. Powell. Two years later, the U.S. announced that
the identity of these remains had been authenticated and they were turned
over to the Powell family for burial.

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 William E. Powell, Vietnam and her communist
allies can account for most of them. Current "negotiations" between the U.S.
and Vietnam have yielded increasing numbers of American remains, although
most of these remains are yet to be positively identified. The families of
some of these men at least 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 "stockpile" over 400 sets of American remains, which they release
at politically-dictated intervals. More importantly, the same credible
witness, whose testimony regarding the remains is believed throughout
Congress, stated that he had seen live Americans held at the same location
where the remains were stored--after the war was over and "all American
prisoners had been released."

As long as even one American remains alive in captivity in Solutheast Asia,
the only issue is that one living man. We must bring our men home before
there are only remains to negotiate for.

During the period William E. Powell was maintained missing and Arthur T.
Hoffson was a prisoner, both were promoted to the rank of Captain.