WHITE, CHARLES EDWARD Name: Charles Edward White Rank/Branch: E7/US Army, 5th Special Forces Group Unit: MACV-SOG, Command & Control North Date of Birth: 18 May 1933 (Union Town AL) Home City of Record: Bessemer AL Date of Loss: 29 January 1968 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 143200N 1071800E (YB489072) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 1006 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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: POSS DEAD - IMPALED SYNOPSIS: MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observation Group) was a joint-service unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (although it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. The teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction into Laos and Cambodia which were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions. SFC Charles E. White was a team leader of a MACV-SOG reconnaissance team that was inserted into a target area in Ratanokiri Province, Cambodia near the border of Laos and Cambodia. The team consisted of White and two indigenous personnel, Nang and Khong. The team came under enemy fire and White called for an emergency extraction. During the extraction, the team had to use McGuire rigs hung from the helicopter because the dense jungle canopy prevented the helicopter from landing. The device was lowered through the trees and raised up again with the men suspended from it. According to the helicopter crew, the three personnel on their ropes seemed secure on liftoff. SFC White indicated that he was having difficulty holding onto the rope, then fell. At the time, the helicopter was at an altitude of between 75 and 200 feet above the ground. Due to the time of day and the enemy situation, a recovery team was not inserted until the next day. No evidence that White had been in the area was found except for the path his body made through the trees and bamboo when the incident occurred. Neither blood trails nor equipment were found. The area appeared to have been searched by the enemy. No fresh grave sites could be located, and it was considered doubtful that the enemy would carry a body any distance before burying it or otherwise disposing of it. It was noted by the recovery team that the bamboo was thick enough to have cushioned PFC White's path in descent, and that he could have survived the fall. In light of all available information, SFC White was placed in Missing in Action status, with the belief that the enemy could probably account for him, living or dead. Curiously, the Defense Intelligence Agency added the data note, "POSS DEAD - IMPALED" to data concerning Charles E. White. Neither Army after-action reports nor other public information mention this gruesome possibility. Both clearly state that no trace of White was found. If there is any credence to this remark, perhaps it comes from classified information related to this case. The missions MACV-SOG teams were assigned were exceedingly dangerous and of strategic importance. The men who were put into such situations knew the chance of their recovery if captured was slim to none. They quite naturally assumed that their freedom would come by the end of the war. For 591 Americans, freedom did come at the end of the war. For another 2500, including White, freedom has never come. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to missing Americans in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., convincing many authorities that hundreds remain alive in captivity. Charles E. White could be among them. If so, what must he think of us?