Remains Returned 05/02/97

Name: Charles Herman Blankenship
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 2nd Bombardment Squadron
Date of Birth: 11 April 1938
Home City of Record: Suitland MD
Date of Loss: 07 July 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 094357N 1065858E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52D

Other Personnel in Incident: George E. Jones; Olen B. McLaughlin. On second B52:
Paul A. Avolese; William J. Crumm; David F. Bittenbender  (all missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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: Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers have long been the Air Force's most
important strategic bomber. Used heavily in Vietnam, the venerable aircraft
continued its role throughout the Southeast Asia conflict and played an
important role in the Persian Gulf war two decades later.

On July 7, 1967, two B52 aircraft were enroute to a combat mission when they
collided in mid-air over the South China Sea. The aircraft were approximately
20 miles offshore at the point of Vinh Binh Province when the accident occurred.
Seven crewmembers from the aircraft were rescued, but Avolese, Crumm,
Bittenbender, Blankenship, Jones, and McLaughlin were not. 

All the missing crewmen onboard the two B52 downed that day were believed to be
dead. It is unfortunate, but a cold reality of war that their remains were not
recoverable. They are listed with honor among the missing because their remains
cannot be buried with honor at home.

Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were in
radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.

Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those who
claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several million
documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to agree
whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be far too
politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive home, and the
U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.

Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still alive
in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still classified.
If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so
many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?

Major General William J. Crumm is the highest-ranking man missing.


Remains ID

Memorandum: No. 067-M
April 30, 1997


The human remains of three American servicemen previously unaccounted-for
from Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their
families for burial in the United States.

They are identified as Capt. Charles H. Blankenship, USAF, of Suitland, Md.
and 1st Lt. George E. Jones, USAF, of Aberdeen, Miss. The name of a U.S.
Navy aviator will not be released at the request of his family.

On July 7, 1967, Blankenship and Jones were en route from Guam on a bombing
run toward a target in South Vietnam. While over the South China Sea, their
B-52D Stratofortress collided in mid-air with another B-52D in the flight.
Both stricken aircraft crashed into the ocean about 22 miles off the coast
of South Vietnam. An extensive search and rescue operation resulted in the
recovery of seven crewmen from the two aircraft. However, Blankenship and
Jones were not found.

In 1993-94, joint U.S.-Vietnamese investigative teams interviewed a
Vietnamese fishermen who claimed to have located wreckage and human remains
from a large aircraft in 100 feet of water. The fishermen turned the remains
over to U.S. authorities. In 1995, an extensive underwater search operation
was conducted by a joint U.S.-Vietnamese team. The team found aircraft
wreckage but no further remains.

The remains of Blankenship and Jones were identified individually, and are
part of a group remains identification. Mitochondrial DNA testing was used
to confirm the two identifications. Their remains will be shipped from the
U.S. Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii at a later date
determined by the families.

With the identification of these servicemen, 2,124 Americans remain
unaccounted-for from the war in Vietnam.