Charlie S. Poole
Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
Exactly 31 years after his plane was shot down in Vietnam, Air Force Master Sergeant Charlie Poole of Gibsland, Louisiana, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Poole was the tail gunner one of six crew members on a B-52 conducting a bombing run of Hanoi when his craft was struck by an enemy surface-to-air missile and crashed about six miles southwest of Hanoi on December 19, 1972, the Department of Defense said.
Four crew members parachuted from the plane and were captured and held as prisoners of war until March 1973. They reported that Poole and Major Richard W. Cooper Jr. had been unable to eject from the craft, according to the DOD. They were listed as missing in action.
During in 1997, U.S. investigators of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command found items that were determined to be the B-52 wreckage. Cooper's Captain's insignia near the wreckage led investigators to identify Cooper; DNA samples were used to identify Poole. The identifications were confirmed this year.
Cooper was also buried Friday at Arlington, the Pentagon said.
Friday's service this week ends years of uncertainty for Cooper's family.
"It hasn't been an easy situation," his 30-year-old daughter, Jennifer Cooper, told The (Salisbury, Maryland) Daily Times. Jennifer Cooper was born five months after her father disappeared. "It's hard enough for a loved one to be lost. But to be in this unknown situation ... it's never left behind completely," she said.
Cooper is also survived by his wife, Jacqueline, another daughter, Natalie Day, his mother, Constance Cooper, two brothers and a sister.
His father, Richard W. Cooper Sr., died in July. The elder Cooper learned shortly before his death that his son's remains had been identified.
According to the Pentagon, more than 2,000 servicemen remain missing from the Vietnam War.
POOLE, CHARLES S
CMSGT US AIR FORCE
DATE OF BIRTH: 06/07/1932
DATE OF DEATH: 12/19/1972
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8248
Posted: 20 December 2003 Updated: 29 May 2006