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May 25, 2010

MIA bracelet for Illinois soldier Vietnam War - can we find a descendant?

Debbie wrote to me to ask for help. Here is her note:

In the mid 60's, during the Vietnam War, people bought copper bracelets with the name of a service person who was MIA. I have one that I got in 1966. I now know that the individual was removed from the MIA list and his name is engraved on the Vietnam Wall as KIA. I'd like to find his wife and/or children to give this bracelet. I have saved it for over 40 years in the hopes of giving it to a family member. So, how can I do this? I do know his name, his branch of service and other bits of information.

The soldier's name is Charles Peter Claxton. Here is a picture of the bracelet that Debbie sent.

I'm asking for readers' help once more to find a descendant so that Debbie can send the bracelet to them. You can post here in the comment section but if you have details on living people you might want to send them to me privately in email

I found an article about Charles and the rest of the air crew that went MIA in 1967. It stated their bodies were found in 2000 although only two were identified positively.

29 Dec 67- Donald E. Fisher, LTC 05, Navigator, of Halfway, Org; Charles Peter Claxton, Pilot, MAJ 04, of Chicago, ILL; Edwin Neims Osborne, Jr., Aircraft Commander, CPT 03 of Ralford, FL; Frank C. Parker,III, Electronic Warfare Officer, CPT 03 of Bridgeport, Penn; Gerald Gordon Van Buren, Pilot, CPT 03 of Toledo, OH; Gordon J. Wenaas, Navigator, CPT 03 of Mayville, ND; Jack McCrary, Flight Engineer, SSG E-5 of Madison, Tenn; Gean Preston Clapper, Radio Operator, SGT E-5 of Altoona, Penn; Edward Jospeh Darcy, Loadmaster, SGT E-5 of Portlandm Org; Wayne Allen Eckley, Flight Engineer, SGT E-5 of Enterprise, Org; and James R. Williams, Loadmaster, SGT E of Charlotte, NC all USAF, Air Crew, C- 130, "Combat Talon", l4th Special Operations Wing, US AIR FORCE, Ops 32/75, Nha Trang-Performing aerial resupply mission for Project Oodles phantom team over North Vietnam they never returned MIA-Remains not recovered. [See page 85, SOG A Photo History of the Secret Wars, by John Plaster]


Cyndi Beane Henry said...

Don't know if it will help, but you can find Charles Peter Claxton's bio here:

Born 1932, and from Chicago, Illinois. Maybe that will help!

Cyndi Beane Henry said...

Born Dec 1932 in Cook County, there was a Charles Claxton married Grace Hunter in 1950 in Cook Co., IL. Might give you something to go on.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cindy said...

I found on ancestry in the Vietanm War: U.S. Military Casualties datebase - Charles Peter Claxton, of Chicago, born 22 Dec 1932, died 27 Apr 1978. This soldier's tour start date is shown as Dec 29, 1967 (I cannot make out the date on the bracelet in the photo - what is that date?) He's listed as an Air Force Colonel. This listing seems to add more questions for me than answers.

Linda Mustion said...

From a Contemporary Press Report:

December 16, 2000

Late on Dec. 29, 1967, Patricia Claxton received a telephone call from an Air Force officer who told her that her husband had disappeared during a mission in North Vietnam. Thirty-three years would pass before a memorial service marked the end of her long wait for an explanation.

A military burial service was held for Col. Charles P. Claxton, 35, an Air Force pilot and Chicago native, and his 10 fellow crewmembers November 15, 2000, in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

What happened to Col. Claxton's C-130 Hercules plane after it lost radio contact wasn't learned until a 1992 investigation in a remote area uncovered the plane's wreckage and the crew's remains.

"I would say we really hoped up until 15 years ago," Patricia Claxton said from her home in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. "There was never any indication the plane had crashed or the men had been captured; we didn't know, but we just hoped we'd receive some positive information."

Col. Claxton joined the Air Force a year after graduating from Mt. Carmel High School in 1951. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1953.

Col. Claxton hoped to attend college with credits he earned in the Air Force, perhaps studying political science, but in August 1967, he was sent to fight in the Vietnam War.

He said goodbye to his wife and five children, whom he had just helped move to Kincheloe Air Force Base in Kinross, Mich.

His daughter Kimberly Samuelson, who was 8 when the family moved, said she remembered her father helping his children with homework, cooking breakfast on weekends and comforting her when she got an allergy shot."He was a great father," she said.

Four months after beginning his service in Vietnam, Col. Claxton joined a crew on a special mission over North Vietnam, taking off just after midnight from Nha Trang. Four hours later, crewmembers reported by radio that they were near the Lai Chau province of North Vietnam. They never returned to base.

A search was called off a month later. Then, in 1992, an investigation led by a team from the U.S. and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam found witnesses of the crash--some of whom had identification cards and tags from the crew. The wreckage and remains were recovered.

The U.S. Department of Defense concluded the low-flying C-130 had crashed into a mountainside before the crew could escape. The government spent years identifying the remains.

Mrs. Claxton said the department never determined whether the plane encountered bad weather or enemy fire.

"I remember him as a good and loving person, a very good citizen and a good husband and father," she said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Col. Claxton is survived by another daughter, Cheryl Cardamoni; three sons, John, Joseph and James; and seven grandchildren.

Larry In GA said...

This should offer us a few clues, from the jan 25 1973 Sault ste marie newspaper:

Kincheloe Family Waits
News Of Missing Father

The next 60 days are bound
to be among the most trying
in their lives for the Claxton
family at Kincheloe Air Force
Base as they await word about
•whether Lt. Col. Charles Claxton
is a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Colonel Claxton has been listed
as missing in action in Vietnam
since Dec. 29, 1967, over five
years ago.
His wife, Pat, who is a Sault
Ste. Marie native, has heard
nothing since of his fate. She
and their five children have
been living at Kincheloe since
Claxton went overseas in 1967.
She was notified that her
husband, who was a pilot on
a cargo plane out of Nha Trang
Air Base in South Vietnam, was
missing after he lost radio
contact when over North Vietnam
around 118 miles northwest
of Hanoi.
Despite all efforts of the
military authorities and all
inquiries that Mrs. Claxton has
made, there has been absolutely
no word sinct about the colonel.
Mrs. Claxton was allowed to
write one letter a month and
send occasional packages to
Vietnam but these have never
b e e n answered or even
acknowledged so she has no way
of knowing if he is alive or dead.
As Pat Bonacci, daughter of
Mrs. Joseph Bonacci, she
graduated from Sault Area high
school and met Claxton when
he was a second lieutenant at
Kincheloe. They were later
married in St. Joseph's Church
in 1956, but she returned to live
at Kincheloe near her family
when he was sent overseas in
1967. Claxton's parents were
living in Pomona, Calif.
There are five Claxton
children in school in the
Rudyard schools, Cheryl, John,
Kim, Joey and Jim.
Mrs. Claxton said she has
heard nothing new since announcement
that the prisoners
wi!l be released and the fate
of the missing in action announced
and that she does not
expect to hear anything for some time.

evening news, sault ste marie, michigan 25 Jan 1973

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cindy said...

Arlington Nat'l Cemetery has a burial for Charles P. Claxton, COL US AIR FORCE Vietnam, born 22 Dec 1932; died 29 Dec 1967.

From the Archives AAD Database:
MILITARY SERVICE: DAF [Department of the Air Force]
TYPE OF CASUALTY: Hostile - Died While Missing
SOCIAL SECURITY OR SERVICE # 352246569 352246569
DATE OF BIRTH 12/22/1932
REASON B: Aircraft Loss/Crash Not at Sea
AIRCRAFT OR NOT AIRCRAFT: Fixed Wing Air Casualty - Pilot
RACE: Caucasian
RELIGION CODE 62 Roman Catholic
MARITAL STATUS: Married (Spouse Listed)
SEX: Male
POSTHUMOUS PROMOTION: Not Posthumously Promoted
AGE 45

Thomas MacEntee said...

While I love seeing these projects unfold, I really think that information concerning living persons (like their birth dates, phone numbers) needs to be masked somehow and not listed in the comments.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Chris said...

Your article lists him as of Chicago, Illinois so I
don't know if it is the same person but a Charles Peter
Claxton and wife Patricia xxx had three
children born in Texas. Possibly he was a career service
man and stationed at Fort Hood or some base there. The
children listed are John Charles Claxton,
Kimberly Ann Claxton
and Joseph Patrick Claxton


If we can prove this is the correct Charles Peter
Claxton, we might be able to locate one of the children.


Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Chris sent info on children of Charles P. Claxton which contained current address and phone number plus the names of grandchildren.

It was put through by accident and published here, but I have now deleted it.

Please send info on living people to me privately. Thanks!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

@Thomas - you are absolutely correct Thomas. The posts with details on living people should never have gone through.

It was my error, I thought I clicked on REJECT but I accidentally hit PUBLISH for all the comments.

I am SAVING all comments that can't go through due to containing details on living people so don't worry, the research done is saved and won't be lost.

It just won't be posted publicly on the blog. Thanks again Thomas for the reminder!

Cindy said...

Just curious if anyone has attempted contact with the children yet?

Debbie M. Leftwich said...

I did locate an email for the daughter Cheryl. I sent a detailed message explaining what I have, how long I've had it and how I wanted the family to have it. The email did not bounce but I have had no response.

Since that time, I've had someone contact me who is friends with someone who is friends with Claxton's wife, Pat. For some reason, I was asked to send the bracelet to Pat's friend who would in turn give it to her. And I deeply appreciate the effort by this individual to help me locate the wife of the missing airman. But, due to my personal attachment to the bracelet (I graduated from high school in 1969, wasn't a protester, etc.) I'd like to send it to his wife directly with no middle person involved. I don't want to dredge up hurtful memories, upset any family member or have someone think I'm a nut case tracking people down. I just want his wife to have it, along with a letter from me telling why I saved it for all these years. I can't thank you all enough for the time, effort and research helping me with this. I hope everyone understands that this is a personal quest, an emotional attachment and I want to be certain of who receives the bracelet. I didn't hold on to it for 42 years to let go with reservation.

Kerry Olson said...

I just read an article today in the LA Times about people who wore POW bracelets. I immediately flashed on my own experience. I was in junior high when I got my bracelet and was sooo proud to wear it, I never took it off! One summer about two years later I was water-skiing at Lake Arrowhead, CA and the rope hooked under the opening of my bracelet as I was being pulled to a start. As the slack was taken out of the rope, I stood and my bracelet was torn off my wrist and flew into the lake. I screamed, "My bracelet!" and let go of the rope thinking I could find it. Of course it sank to the bottom of the lake and I was heartbroken and in tears. Now, almost 40 years later I have gone online and found all this information about my "guy". I didn't know that there were others who also might have had the same name/bracelet I did until I read the article in the paper. Then I stumbled upon this blog in my research. I have NEVER forgotten his name or date... Major Charles P. Claxton 12/29/67 may he rest in peace. God bless his family, I thank you for his service and your sacrifice.

Unknown said...

Hello, my name is Kimberly (Claxton) Samuelson and this is my father. My mom, sister and brothers are all currently living in Michigan. My dad was originally from Illinois and was career Air Force. Thank you all so much for caring about my dad and family.

freetobeme said...

Hello,my name is Janet and I,too, have a silver bracelet for Charles.I was in college when I bought it and also have treasured this piece of history,wondering who Charles was and if they ever found him.When they brought the replica of the Wall in Washington DC to Long Island N.Y.,I prayed that I wouldn't find his name on there- but sadly the person working there led me to his name and I cried even after all these years.This Sunday,Jan.2 I will remember your father at church and light a candle for him,Kimberly, in celebration of his life.God bless you all! Janet

Char Livermore said...

My name is Char and I to had the POW/MIA bracelet for Major Charles P. Claxton. I never took it off until Sept. 23, 1990 when I went to visit the traveling Wall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As my niece and I approached the Wall we decided to look at it for awhile before asking for the location of his name (32E 7th row from bottom). The most strange but wonderful feeling came over me when the first name that I saw was for him. With tears running down my cheeks I finally took of my bracelet and left it at the Wall. I still think of him and the sacrifice he and his family gave us so we could have our freedom. God bless him and all those who fought for us.

Lori Fraschilla said...

I too wore a POW/MIA bracelet bearing the name of Maj. Charles P Claxton. Although I was a pre-teen, I wore it proudly and daydreamed about him, wondering if he was ever found. I never imagined at the time that so many others would share his name with me, and unknowingly share concern for his well-being. So nice to make this connection. His family must be so proud of him.

Anonymous said...

I also wore a bracelet bearing Major Claxton's name. I was in elementary school, and prayed every night for his safe return. I have thought of him many times in the past forty years. Blessings to his family.

Unknown said...

I'm from Michigan and also had his name on my bracelet. I was in Jr high. I wore it through most of the 80s and often thought of him since I lost a cousin in Dec 69 in Vietnam.

Unknown said...

I knew Charlie. He was a wonderful man. I grew up with his sister-in-law, JoAnn and he was so good to us. Drove us to the bowling alley, bought us candy bars, a really generous soul. I have a rubbing from the wall back in the 80's. When he went missing, We were seventeen and it was the most awful time for the family.

Unknown said...

I have one for him as well. I was 13 yrs old and bought mine from a dentist in the area who was selling them. I still have it and would like to return it to the family. Please let me know if you have any luck.