TOLBERT, CLARENCE ORFIELD Remains Returned November 3, 1988 Name: Clarence Orfield Tolbert Rank/Branch: O6/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 56, USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) Date of Birth: 04 June 1939 Home City of Record: Tishomingo OK Date of Loss: 06 November 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 191358N 1054459E (WG791262) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A7B Refno: 1943 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled 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 in 2016. REMARKS: DEAD - NHAN DAN SYNOPSIS: Commander Clarence O. Tolbert was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 56 onboard the aircraft carrier USS MIDWAY. On November 6, 1972, Tolbert launched in his A7B "Corsair" in a flight of two on a reconnaissance mission into Nghe An Province, North Vietnam. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the starboard wing during the mission. Commander Tolbert immediately turned the aircraft towards the coast (the favored evasion route), just as it caught fire. The fire went out within seconds but the aircraft continued to stream fuel. Within 1 1/2 miles from the coast the flight controls apparently froze and the aircraft impacted the ground in a flat spin. Tolbert's wingman observed the aircraft from the time it was hit until impact with the ground and observed no ejection or parachute. No radio communication was established during the whole episode. An active search and rescue effort was discontinued due to lack of visual or voice contact. An article appeared in the November 15, 1972 edition of Nhan Dan newspaper in Hanoi which stated that the Vietnamese forces had shot down a U.S. aircraft on that date and that the pilot ejected but the parachute did not open. Almost 16 years to the day later, the Vietnamese "discovered" the remains of Commander Tolbert and returned them to U.S. control. Even though Vietnamese soldiers had observed Tolbert's ejection and knew the precise location of the crash of his aircraft, for 16 years, the Vietnamese denied any knowledge of his fate. The U.S. Government believes progress is being made on the issue of the missing, prisoner and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Perhaps it has taken 16 years of delicate negotiations to motivate the Vietnamese to honor the pledge they made in Paris in 1973 to return all POWs and account for as many of the missing as possible. The U.S. Government has received over the years nearly 10,000 reports concerning missing Americans. Many authorities believe, based on these reports and other information, that there are hundreds of Americans still alive and captive in Southeast Asia, but their freedom seems beyond our grasp.
On 1/26/2003 8:09 PM, JAGMOM74@aol.com wrote:
To the family of LCDR Smokey Tolbert. I am 46 years old and have had your loved ones bracelet since the early 70's. I remember wearing it for
what appeared to be forever when I first got it. All these years I have kept it and run across it from time to time. Tonight as I found it, I decided
to search the Internet to check the status of Mr. Tolbert. I am thrilled to find out that his remains were returned to you in 1988. If anyone in your
family wishes me to return his bracelet I will be happy to do so upon request. If not, I will continue to keep it as a reminder of what a courageous
man Cmdr Tolbert was. I have a daughter who is in the Navy JAG, and is deployed at this time. I know what a great sense of pride it is for her
to serve our country, and am very proud of her. God Bless.
Sleep peacefully tonight for somewhere in the depths of the ocean my daughter is protecting your freedom.
Clarence Orfield Tolbert, better know as
Smokey to most was KIA and the remains have been returned. Inquiring if
anyone has a
pow/mia bracelet with his name? He is my great uncle. My grandmother was his sister. I received all his information that my grandmother
received when he went MIA. I have many pictures, his medals, his flag, his naval sweater, and his blue angel memorabilia. I am searching
for his POW/MIA bracelet to put with my display in my home. I have all the documents of his event when shot down and we received
his remains back in ’88. He is buried next to my grandmother in troy cemetery new Tishamingo, Oklahoma.