Remembering One of Our Own
On September 4, 2017, while conducting a Membership Drive Campaign in Panama City Beach, FL, during the Gulf Coast Jam, Ms. Debbie Burkart Fisher and her boyfriend, Bob Kerstetter, saw our UH-1H Huey helicopter (123) and approached one of our volunteers, Al Hauenstein. They asked if they could walk out to see 123. While walking her out toward 123 Debbie began to weep and her story began to unfold.
While on a bombing mission in Vietnam, her Dad, Colonel Charles William Burkart, Jr. (USAF), was flying a B-57E Canberra as a part of a diamond shaped formation with two other B-57s and an RB-66 on a night strike mission against a target in North Vietnam. When the formation entered a stormy area over Laos, they decided to spread apart until clearing the storm.
When the formation cleared the clouds one aircraft was missing and that was Colonel Charles William Burkart Jr's aircraft. After an extensive search for the missing aircraft and possible survivors, Debbie's Dad was declared MIA on June 13, 1966.
For fifty years there had been nothing discovered until early this year when parts of a B-57 aircraft engine were located at a crash site near the last known position of Colonel Burkart's plane. Colonel Burkart's case is the only unaccounted-for B-57 loss from Laos. His case has now been put on the excavation list to search for any remains at the crash site.
We wish Debbie all the hope and promise that her Dad will be found and finally brought home to rest.
Debbie and her now fiancé Bob, both joined FAA-O and took an aerial flight on Huey 123. And, by the way, Bob proposed to Debbie while walking out to the aircraft!!!