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Missing more than 50 years, Vietnam pilot’s remains to be returned to Washington family

U.S. Naval Reserve Commander Paul C. Charvet (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency/Released)
January 15, 2022

A missing pilot who gave his life in the Vietnam War could soon be laid to rest by his family.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said officials recently were able to brief the family of U.S. Naval Reserve Commander Paul C. Charvet on the identification of his remains.

The agency said Charvet, 26, of Grandview, was accounted for March 1, 2021 and that his family has now been given all the information, according to a release from the agency.

He was missing, presumed killed in action, for more than 50 years.

Charvet was the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider airplane assigned to Attack Squadron 215 aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard.

During a mission near Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam, on March 21, 1967, his plane disappeared in an area of low cloud cover and fog a kilometer northeast of Hon Me Island.

His remains were not recovered after a search of the area.

On March 22, Radio Hanoi Broadcast reported an American aircraft was shot down the day before off the coast of Thanh Hoa Province. Officials believed it was Charvet’s plane because his was the only U.S. aircraft lost in that area on March 21.

Charvet was considered missing in action until Dec. 2, 1977, when his status was changed to “Presumed Killed in Action.”

Charvet’s name is recorded on the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others who are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Charvet’s funeral date and location has not yet been decided.

Recovery

On Sept. 24, 2020, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam turned over presumed human remains and material evidence to the U.S. government.

Additional material evidence was turned over Oct. 15, 2020. The remains and evidence were then turned over to DPAA’s laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii where scientists used dental and anthroplogical evidence to identify Charvet.

The material evidence helped support their conclusion. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

POW/MIA

Officials also have been working to find the remains of a Burbank man who went missing during the Vietnam War.

The family of Major San D. Francisco’s has been waiting to hear that he’s been found after his F-4 Phantom jet fighter was shot down over North Vietnam in 1968.

In November, the DPAA said that it had received information about two possible sites that Francisco may have been buried, but Department of Defense excavations in Vietnam have stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Francisco graduated from Kennewick High in 1962 and then graduated from Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at what is now Central Washington University. He was promoted to major after his death.

The U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told the Francisco family that a man who helped bury Francisco and another who stood guard by a tunnel and watched as Francisco’s parachute came down had information about his burial that could be viable.

U.S. officials believe Francisco’s body was placed in a bomb crater, then dug up within days so photographs could be taken for Vietnamese Army propaganda because of the claim that his was the 2,000th plane shot down during the war. He was reburied in the same area.

The DPAA said required quarantines due to COVID-19 significantly cut down the windows they are given to excavate potential burial sites. It is unclear when the search will resume.

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