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PALEN, Carl Anthony "Tony"

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PALEN, Carl Anthony "Tony." (Dubuque, IA, Apr. 11, 1947--Republic of Vietnam, Aug. 22, 1978). On January 3, 1971, Capt. Ferris A. Rhodes, Jr. was the pilot of a U6 Beaver (serial #52-25884) that was conducting an administrative support flight from Qui Nhon to Ban Me Thout, South Vietnam. The passengers on board the Beaver were collecting replacement helicopters for their respective companies. His six passengers were helicopter pilots and crewmen who would fly the helicopters back to their base. They were 1st Lt. Michael D. Parsons, WO1 Thomas R. Okerlund, WO1 Dennis W. Omelia; WO1 Luis G. Holguin; SP6 Patrick J. Magee; and then SP5 Carl A. Palen.

Unfortunately for all personnel on this flight, Capt. Rhodes departed Qui Nhon Airfield without filing a proper flight plan or obtaining a weather briefing prior to takeoff. Capt. Rhodes took off to the north, then requested and was granted permission to make a left hand turn to the west.

Approximately 14 miles southeast of Phu Cat, both radio and radar contact was lost with the plane. No further contact was made with the Beaver and it was believe by the ground control center at Qui Nhon that the flight reached the Ban Me Thout Airfield safely.

Because Capt. Rhodes announced plans to remain overnight at Ban Me Thout, no one at Qui Nhon became alarmed until January 5th when Rhodes and his passengers failed to return to base. Once it was determined the aircraft was missing, an exhaustive air, sea and ground search and rescue (SAR) effort was initiated. The search continued until January 9th, but found no trace of the aircraft or men on board. At the time the formal search was terminated, all seven men aboard the U6 were listed Missing in Action.

The crash site was reportedly found in June 2001. Two witnesses to the incident, from a hamlet approximately 200 meters away, reported finding two badly burned bodies, which they buried. The Army originally declared Palen dead on August 22, 1978. The Vietnamese government has continuously refused American efforts to investigate the crash site or recover human remains.

Further investigation found the 2001 crash site was not Palen's. The airplane did not match the type he was in on the day of the crash. The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Department has this case open, and will look into any site they find. (1)



1. Elaine Palen. e-mail. September 14, 2017

Information provided by Richard G. Bridges