Charles Edward Barnett was a Commander in the United States Navy when he went Missing in Action in North Vietnam on 23 May 1972. Barnett was born on 18 January 1935, and his home city of record is Houston, Texas. Barnett's remains were returned in 1988 and identified in 1989.
BODY FELL IN FIELD - NHAN DAN
Commander Charles E. Barnett was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 93 onboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41). On May 23, 1972 at 12:00 p.m., Cdr. Barnett launched in his A7B "Corsair" aircraft as the flight leader of a strike mission into Nam Dinh, North Vietnam. Cdr. Barnett and his wingman preceded the strike group to suppress the two known active surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites.
As the strike group withdrew from their attack, Cdr. Barnett and his wingman followed. At approximately 6-8 miles from the coast-out point, Cdr. Barnett directed his wingman over the radio to increase his speed and maneuver. Approximately twenty seconds later, he transmitted to his wingman that he had an electronic indication of a SAM radar. The wingman heard no further transmissions from him and lost sight of him. The wingman attempted to contact Cdr. Barnett by radio but with negative results. The wingman observed what appeared to be an aircraft crash site and a column of smoke about five miles inland. Search and rescue efforts produced negative results.
According to the U.S. Navy, that is the end of the story. Commander Barnett was maintained in a casualty status of Missing In Action, which was changed administratively to Presumed Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered on 15 June 1975.
After The Incident
A Vietnamese publication called Nhan Dan reported that Commander Barnett's body fell into a field from his crippled aircraft, but at the end of the war, after having signed an agreement to release all prisoners and account for as many missing as possible, the Vietnamese denied any knowledge of Commander Barnett.
On 03 November 1988, the Vietnamese "discovered" they had the remains of Commander Barnett and returned them to U.S. control. After going through the identification process in the U.S., it was announced in early February 1989 that Commander Barnett had come home.
Biographical and incident of loss information was obtained from either POW/NET and/or Task Force Omega, Inc (unless otherwise noted). Additional information may be found via remembrances at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund or The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial.