Elwyn Rex Capling

469TH TFS, 388TH TFW, 7TH AF
United States Air Force
15 July 1930 - 19 September 1968
Detroit, Michigan
Panel 43W Line 033



USAF Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Elwyn Rex Capling

19 Aug 2002

I have had the POW bracelet for Maj. Rex Capling since I was 13 years old and I am now 45 years old. I have tried several times to find out about Maj. Rex Capling. Yesterday I read in our local newspaper in Minot, North Dakota that "The Moving Wall" is coming to Grand Forks North Dakota Aug 30 to Sept 5th. I went to my fire safe and got out the POW bracelet to try again to find Maj. Rex Capling. Only then did I find out that his first name is Elwyn and Rex was his middle name. I cried when I read that his remains were returned on March 18, 1977. I so hoped that the reason I couldn't find his name was because he made it home.

I now hope to locate his family so I can give them the bracelet. With the computer I want to start my research. If anyone knows his family please call me collect at home #701-839-8788 and ask for Joni Brunner or my address is 1000 - 20th Ave NW Condo A-8 Minot, ND 58703 or work # is 701-839-4240 Rehab Services Inc. 1421 - 2nd Ave SW Minot, ND 58701.

May God be with every one of our military personnel and their families.

31 Mar 2004

Hi from Joni Brunner,

First of all I want to thank everyone for their comments. I was successful in my search to find Rex's family (sister). Her name is also Joan and I just received an e-mail on the 28th from a Joanne who also had one of his bracelets. This is so Godly. Joan has shared a lot about Rex and his family with me.

I sent my bracelet to her in September of 2002 after I'd seen the Moving Wall in Jamestown, North Dakota. I wasn't expecting all the emotions and just hard and nervous I was when I put it in the mail box to send to Joan. She called me as soon as she got it. She was going to place it in their local library where they have a memorial section for the Vietnam Vets.

Joan and I have kept in contact, I call and she writes. She asked me to send pictures of my son and myself. I will be in Toledo, Ohio for my nephew's Graduation from Grad School. I called Joan to see if I could come meet her and she thinks it would be great. I will drive up to Bad Axe about the 10th or 11th of May. Her place is over 1200 miles from my place in Minot, North Dakota.

May God be with everyone and their loved ones.

19 May 2004

On May 5th I flew from Minot North Dakota to Toledo Ohio for my nephew's Graduation from Grad School. Then on May 10th I borrowed his pickup and drove to Bad Axe Michigan (210 miles one way) to met Rex's sister Joan Quirk. I'd sent her his POW Bracelet back in 2002. We had a great time, she showed me where they grew up and went to school etc.

What a beautiful town and area. She drove me around to see their Lighthouses. I had the motel clerk take a pictures of us. At her place she showed me a picture of Rex in his uniform, he was a very nice looking man. I took pictures of him. She showed me his piggy bank and the dishes they ate out of when they were little. She asked if we could meet half way some time.

I had her take me to the library, so I could show her all his info on the virtual wall. She had tears in her eyes but thought it was great.

I think we would have more fun if she flew to Minot instead of meeting somewhere in Wisconsin. I'm going to offer to pay part of her way and suggest she come in July during our State Fair (10 days) or in October for the Hostfest. The Hostfest lasts 6 days and people come from all over the world. Lots of music and fish. There isn't a motel room available within 100 miles those days. People even rent out rooms in their homes.

Joni Brunner, Minot, North Dakota

PS: Thank You to everyone who helped me find Rex's sister.

Joni Brunner
1000-20th Ave NW Condo A-8, Minot, North Dakota
22 Mar 2003

Not many of us remain, may honor be heaped upon your name.

From a cousin,
Todd Capling
106 Three Saints Ave, Old Harbor, AK.

31 Jan 2004

My deepest sympathy to the family of Rex Capling. It's simple to say, "He died for his country," but to live the years without the one you loved is totally heartbreaking. I didn't know Rex personally, but my father, Kenneth William Capling, was a cousin of his. My father grew up in Harbor Beach, MI. I believe Rex lived around Bad Axe, MI. That is approximately twenty minutes west of Harbor Beach. I remember as a young girl, wearing a bracelet for Rex. I was thinking about this the other day, and lo and behold, I log on to this site and read about a lady close to my age that did the same thing!

I am a caretaker for an 84 year old World War II veteran, and hear many, many stories from that era. Sometimes I hear them over and over, but that's OK, I'm sure somewhere down the line I missed a bit of information anyway! I read the Pantanella Newsletter to him when it comes in the mail, as he has Glaucoma and cannot see to read it himself. Quite interesting all the information I've been learning lately.

Anyway, the lady that wrote a message stating she wore the bracelet may be interested in this information about Rex. If she would like, I would be willing to find out more information for her.

God Bless Rex Capling's family and may they finally be at peace knowing where his remains lie. My husband and I visited Colorado, and could have very well visited his gravesite, but we didn't realize at the time that it was there. We were right at the Air Force Academy, after 1977 too.

Peace Be With You,

Cynthia J. {Capling} Wade
263 North Howard, Croswell, Michigan 48422

July 15,2004

To the family of Rex Capling, I too have a bracelet which I never took off for years as a teen. I found his name on the Vietnam Memorial years ago but knew little else until now. I found out about this site yesterday from a HD magazine and this day also appears to be his birthday - an incredible coincidence. Thank you so much for all the information presented.

To J. Brunner, I've had the bracelet since I was 13 as well and I think we are likely the same age. I thought they were one of a kind but am happy to know of others that have also thought of him often.

I now feel some peace knowing more about him through this wonderful site. This day will be a special one from now on. Peace to all.

Meredith Brown Fitzherbert

01 May 2006

I just happened to do a search today for Rex Capling. My father, Ernest Ratliff, an Air Force fighter pilot, was one of his best friends and the anniversary of my Dad is coming soon so he and his friends are on my mind this time of year.

Rex was a helicopter pilot, married (Virginia) with a daughter (Kris).

My mother was one of Virginia's best and closest friends for many years before and after Rex's death. The last I knew Virginia was living in Texas, near her daughter.

I hope this adds a little more information to Rex and his legacy.

I also wore a MIA/POW bracelet for many years as a child and young adult.

From a friend and MIA Bracelet wearer,
Ernie Ratliff III

11 Jul 2006

I too have a POW bracelet for Major Rex Capling that I have had since 1970. I would like to return the bracelet to his family.

I tried to connect with Joni Brunner to no avail. If anyone has info as to who I can contact, please let me know.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Capling family as well as all of our servicemen and women who fight for our freedom.

Cheryl Trtan

Notes from The Virtual Wall

Then-Major Elwyn Rex Capling was shot down over Quang Binh Province. According to the POW Network biography, he was flying an F-105F and
"Other pilots in the flight observed Maj. Capling's successful ejection ... By radio, Capling reported his leg was broken and requested help. Because of the heavy concentration of North Vietnamese forces in the immediate area, rescue attempts were impossible."

There are some discrepancies with respect to Major Capling's loss:

  • The "F" model of the F-105 THUNDERCHIEF was a two-seat aircraft but the DoD PM-SEA database of MIA/POW personnel does not show anyone other than Major Capling as an F-105 loss on 19 September 1968. Hobson (Vietnam Air Losses) states that Major Capling was flying a single seat F-105D (tail number 60-0428).

  • The Holloway version of the DoD Casualty File shows the incident date as 19 Jan 1968, the date of death as 19 Jan 1968, and the status code for "Hostile - Died while Missing". The DoD PM-SEA database and other sources give the incident date as 19 Sep 1968. The Virtual Wall accepts the 19 Sep 68 date.

  • The All POW-MIA site has a passing mention of Major Capling which claims that he was listed by the Defense Intelligence Agency as a POW in March 1969, but no specific documentation of that claim is presented.

  • As noted above, the DoD Casualty File record is coded as "Died while Missing" rather than "Died while Captured". This coding indicates that he was not classed as a Prisoner of War when a determination of death was made.

  • Major Capling is not included in either the
    • Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs "Last Known Alive" list of 01 Dec 1992 or the
    • Defense Intelligence Agency's "Last Known Alive" list of 07 Feb 1996.
    which casts doubt on the POW Network statement that other flight members communicated with him after his ejection.
What is known is that Major Capling was carried as Missing in Action and was twice promoted - to Lieutenant Colonel, then to Colonel - while MIA, and that his remains were repatriated by the Vietnamese government on 19 March 1977, eleven years after he was shot down. The positive identification of his remains was announced on 31 March 1977.

Colonel Elwyn Rex Capling is buried in Plot 003-C-056 of the Air Force Academy Cemetery, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Joni Brunner
1000-20th Ave N W Condo A-8, Minot, North Dakota

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 19 Aug 2002
Last updated 07/16/2006