DALE, CHARLES ALVA

Name: Charles Alva Dale  
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Colonel/US Army 
Unit: 73rd Aviation Company, 
765th Transportation Battalion 





Date of Birth: 05 May 1937 (Churchill, TN)
Home of Record: Phoenix AZ
Date of Loss: 09 June 1965 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 093514N 1062201E (XR035296)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1C "Mohawk"
Other Personnel In Incident: David S. Demmon (Prisoner of War) 

REMARKS:  OV-1 DISAPPEARED OVER VINH BIHN

SYNOPSIS:  The Grumman OV1C Mohawk arrived in Vietnam in 1962 with various models serving continuously throughout the war. It became an increasingly familiar sight from one end of Vietnam to the other. This twin engine aircraft was handy when only short, rough runways were available and ground units needed almost instantaneous photo coverage. Gradually increasingly effective sensors and radars were produced including side-looking aerial radar (SLAR). Further, surveillance techniques using infrared detection equipment and a forward-aimed camera proved especially useful since the Viet Cong relied heavily on darkness to conceal their activities. The Mohawk also had the ability to carry both offensive armament and defensive weapons. This made the sturdy OV1C not only an excellent FAC and intelligence gathering aircraft, but one which could give close air support to ground troops in need of assistance.

At 0317 hours on 9 June 1965, then 1st Lt. Charles A. Dale, pilot; and SP4 David S. Demmon, electronic sensor operator, departed Vung Tau Airfield in an OV1C (serial #61-2687) on a reconnaissance mission. During the first communications check, Charles Dale reported having difficulty with his communications system. Radio contact was lost, then regained with Saigon radar control at 0449 hours. Standard operating procedure for the Mohawk was to periodically fly over a known location to update the onboard navigation computer. One such update took place 87 minutes after takeoff and placed them over Vung Tau, which was located on the coast of South Vietnam approximately 35 miles southeast of Saigon. Charles Dale notified the communications center they were heading to a second mission area in Vinh Binh Province. This was the last radio communication Saigon's control center had with 1st Lt. Dale or SP4 Demmon.

Somewhere over the U Minh forest, the aircraft disappeared and was not heard from again. At 0717 hours, the aircraft was declared overdue at the estimated time their fuel would have been exhausted. Immediately extensive aerial search and rescue (SAR) operations were initiated and centered over an area covered by triple canopy jungle and extensive rivers, canals and waterways approximately 50 miles south-southwest of Saigon and 10 to 15 miles due east of Vin Loi, Vinh Binh Province, South Vietnam. SAR efforts failed to find any sign of the Mohawk or its crew. At the time formal search efforts were terminated, Charles Dale and David Demmon were listed Missing in Action.

Almost immediately after the loss, intelligence reports of sightings of unnamed caucasians who had been captured by the VC and were being held in a prison camp in the general area of the Mohawk's loss were received by the US military. These reports were correlated to 1st Lt. Dale and SP4 Demmon and copies of the reports were placed in both men's casualty files.

Some of these communist prison camps were actually way stations the VC used for a variety of reasons. Others were regular POW camps. Regardless of size and primary function, conditions in the VC run camps frequently included the prisoners' being tied at night to their bamboo bunks anchored by rope to a post in their small bamboo shelters. In others they were held in bamboo cages, commonly referred to as tiger cages, and in yet other camps the dense jungle itself provided the bars to their cage. There was rarely enough food and water to sustain them, and as a result, the Americans suffered from a wide variety of illnesses in addition to their injuries and wounds.

Several intelligence reports relating to 1st Lt. Dale and SP4 Demmon continued to surface well into 1970. These reports documented that at times both men were being held together, and at other times were being held separately. Based on these multiple independent reports, there is no doubt that both men were seen alive by several Controlled American Sources (CAS), and they were in the hands of the Viet Cong. Also in 1970, a visitor to a Cambodian prison camp claimed to have seen an American named Demmon and that person was able to identify David's photograph. During this same time frame, a defector provided the phonetic name "Phyan De Mann", which translates to "Family name of De Manh".

In December 1970, a prisoner identified SP4 Demmon's photograph as the picture of an individual imprisoned in a POW camp in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. This led to David Demmon's status being immediately upgraded from Missing in Action to Prisoner of War. Another report was received in March 1971 stating that SP4 Demmon was alive in a prison at Kratie, Cambodia in January 1970. This source was given a polygraph that confirmed the information being provided was truthful.

In 1987, evidence of a large number of Americans being held in China began to surface in the private sector. It was reported that these Americans were the "property" of a number of pro-China Vietnamese officials who had fled Vietnam in the wake of a stronger national alliance with the Soviet Union. These reports bore a striking resemblance to a number of intelligence reports documenting Charles Alva Dale serving as a houseboy for a Chinese General in southern China that were received by the US government beginning as early as the late-1970's.

In April 1991 the US government released a list of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action who were known to be alive in enemy hands and for whom there is no evidence that he or she died in captivity. This list, commonly referred to today as the USG's "Last Known Alive" list, included both Charles Dale and David Demmon.

In March 1992, a US team from the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTFFA) traveled to Vinh Binh Province to investigate this loss incident. Team members interviewed residents living in the reported area of loss who provided information about the downing of an American aircraft that the team correlated to the OV1C flown by Charles Dale and David Demmon. Local villagers stated that the aircraft crashed, and the bodies of the aircraft's two occupants washed up on the shore where they were buried by other local residents. The team members were taken to an area where the Americans had been buried, but all efforts to locate the reported gravesites were unsuccessful.

Based on the numerous live sighting reports of SP4 Demmon and 1st Lt. Dale in captivity and being moved through several POW camps, there is no doubt they were captured and in under the control of the VC. If either soldier died under the direct control of the VC, there is also no question the Vietnamese could be return his remains to his family, friends and country any time they had the desire to do so. However, if David Demmon and Charles Dale continued to survive, as indicated by the continuing intelligence reports collected by our government, their fate like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American POWs remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly and fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.