Airman missing in action from Vietnam War is identified

  • Published
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced Oct. 26 that the remains of an Airman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Maj. Charles L. Bifolchi of Quincy, Mass. He will be buried on Oct. 27 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

On Jan. 8, 1968, Major Bifolchi and a fellow crewmember were flying an armed reconnaissance mission against enemy targets in Kon Tum Province, South Vietnam, when their RF-4C Phantom disappeared. A U.S. Army helicopter crew found their aircraft wreckage soon after first light the next day. Search efforts continued for four days; however, enemy activity in the area, combined with the steep terrain and high winds at the crash site, precluded the recovery of the crewmen.

Between 1993 and 2000, U.S. and Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, conducted two surveys of an area that was believed to be Major Bifolchi's crash site. One team interviewed two Vietnamese citizens who turned over human remains they claimed to have recovered at the site. Another team found wreckage consistent with Major Bifolchi's aircraft.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA from a known maternal relative in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site.