Charles Elbert Finney

VMA(AW)-533, MAG-12, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
05 June 1944 - 28 April 1978
Saltillo, Mississippi
Panel 29W Line 060



Naval Flight Officer

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

The database page for Charles Elbert Finney

04 May 1999

I have worn a POW/MIA bracelet for almost a year now in honor of Major Charles E. Finney, USMC.

My name is Steve Arnold, I'm a Marine Corps Veteran and served in Operation Desert Storm. I want to thank you for your efforts in paying tribute to all these wonderful men and women who gave their lives, and who are still missing, to ensure that there would be a Marine Corps, and an Army, and a Navy, and an Air Force, for young people like me to serve so proudly in.

I was born in 1970. I'm not gonna say "I know how it must have felt to be there", no one but brave people such as yourself and my Uncle Jerry Summers know how it feels. I would be paying you a great disservice, and Major Finney. But, I do know in my heart that I love each and every man and woman who fought and served in Vietnam, and that's something that will be with me til the day I die.

Steve Arnold

13 May 2007


This is Steve Arnold, I started Major Finney's page several years ago. As Memorial Day approaches my memories of this magnificent man resurface, although they never really subside.

I never knew him, I met him merely through purchasing a bracelet with his name on it. But his name turned into something more for me, much more.

I had the privilege and honor of finally visiting him at Arlington National Cemetery, where he is forever immortalized for everyone to come and visit.

Major Finney is a man I never met, but he has become in death a wonderful friend; many times I have thought of him and wondered what he would think of decisions I've made, and I've sought to make him proud. I've told his story to the next generation, kids not old enough to understand the sacrifices men such as Major Finney have made, and still make, for all of us to be free and safe.

I wish I could have met Chuck Finney, and shook his hand. I don't know what we would talk about, what I would say, other than "Thank you", not just for his service to our country, and the ultimate sacrifice he made, but for the important figure he has become in my life.

As Memorial Day approaches, I humbly request that we all take the time to think about the extraordinary men, like Charles Finney and his co-pilot Steve Armitstead, to stop our squabbling during our current situation as Americans, and unite under the watchful eye of our fallen heroes who STILL look over us and protect us in death as they did in life.

Major Finney, Rest in Peace my friend!

Steve Arnold
Santa Cruz, Ca


I was privileged to know Chuck and Leslie Finney and am honored to be godfather to his son. Chuck was an outstanding person, a superior aviator, and a fine officer of Marines. We served together throughout flight training, he a Marine and I a Naval officer, both chosing to fly the A-6 Intruder. I last saw him in the Philippines in late 1968 as my ship came off the line.

My squadron was still at home (NAS Oceana, Virginia) between WestPac cruises when Leslie called to tell me of Chuck's loss in combat. I very clearly recall feeling then, and still feel today, a tremendous sense of personal loss over his death. He was, and in my mind remains, the kind of person that one wishes to emulate -- a fair and compassionate officer, a patriot, and above all a good friend. He is missed.

Kenneth J. Davis
Commander, USN (Ret)

A Marine Comes Home

21 March 2000

This memorial page originally was dedicated by Steve Arnold in memory of a man he'd never met. Later, I added to the memorial of a man I once knew well. Today, we celebrate the return of a Marine whose duty kept him from family and friends for 31 years.

On 17 March 1969 1stLt Steven Armitstead and Captain Chuck Finney were flying in an A-6A aircraft on a night armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. Crewmen from other aircraft in the area observed an explosion in the vicinity of the target, then a second explosion nearby which was believed to be that of Finney's aircraft. They went down near the city of Muong Nong, located southwest of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), in Savannakhet Province, Laos. No parachutes were sighted and no emergency beepers were heard. Search and rescue efforts were terminated several days later when no signs of survivors were found.

Both men were listed as Missing in Action. Leslie Finney and their two small children entered into a state of limbo. Time passed, and on 28 April 1978 Chuck's status was changed from MIA to "Killed in Action, Body not Recovered".

In 1999, a U.S. search team was permitted to examine the crash site. While 1stLt Armitstead's fate could not be proven, remains recovered from the site proved to be those of Captain Finney. Final identification was announced on 14 March 2000.

On 17 March 2000, 31 years after his death, Major Charles E. Finney, United States Marine Corps, was laid to rest in the Arlington National Cemetery. I salute Chuck, and welcome him home.

Kenneth J. Davis


My name is Lisa Reyes and I PROUDLY wear Major Finney's MIA bracelet. I bought it two years ago at The Wall in Washington, D.C.. Until now I had not looked into the internet for any information about Major Finney.

I just want to say that I was only nine years old when he was shot down over Laos but the impact of the Viet Nam War has affected me, as a patriot, throughout the years.

Major Finney will always be remembered by me because freedom truly is not free! Just ask the families of all the men and women whose names appear on the wall. Every day I treasure what my family and I have as a direct result of heros like Major Charles Finney.

Lisa Reyes
E-Mail will be forwarded by the


My son Stephen, now 16, was in 8th grade when his class took a trip to Washington D.C. When they visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall Stephen bought Major Charles Finney's POW/MIA bracelet as a remembrance of the servicemen who still were missing. We are so happy to know they found his remains and brought him home.

Maureen Hurst
Stephen Hurst
E-Mail will be forwarded by the


Around 1971 when I was 12 I received a POW/MIA bracelet with Chuck Finney's name on it. I wore it for a long time and long after I stopped wearing it I continued to pray for him and for his family. I never met him or knew anything about his family but for the past 30 years I have prayed for them. I prayed that if he was alive God would give him strength to survive and I prayed for his family to be strong in the face of the unknown.

I visited the Wall in DC a number of times and took Chuck Finney flowers and plants. Through the years the only information I had was that he was from Mississippi. I tried contacting his family through some organizations but in those pre-Internet days it was difficult and never had any luck so I just continued to pray for him and his family. Late last night I decided to try to find out information on the web and was so relieved to find out that he had finally been returned home.

I also found through some postings of his good friend, Ken Davis, that he left behind a wife and two children. To them, I just want to say "thank you". Your husband and father was a true American hero. I will continue to pray that God may give us more men like Chuck Finney. I will also visit his grave to honor him. God bless.

E. M. L. Sullivan

01 Jun 2006

I was 10 or 11 years old when I sent away for a POW bracelet. I remember the mixed feelings I had when I put my bracelet on. I felt proud, sad, angry, and a bit mystified that Chuck Finney went missing on Saint Patrick's Day. I believed that made him very special and I would tell everyone. I prayed that I would someday, somehow find out that he had come home, that I could meet him.

Over the years I have searched lists for his name hoping to know that he was either safe at home or peacefully at rest. I have googled his name more than once to no avail until yesterday. Yesterday I came upon this webpage and learned that Chuck Finney had been promoted to Major and was a husband and a father and a good friend. I learned that he was a naval flight officer in the Marines. My dad was a pilot in the Air Force.

I did not know that Major Finney's name was on the Wall, ignorance on my part, and now I have a reason to go visit this important reminder. I feel a tangible closure to what this band of metal has meant to me for 35 years. I still speak to him even though I do not regularly wear the bracelet. It now sits next to my computer and I will always look at it and feel a connection to those of you who knew my POW.

My pain and sadness over his loss can never compare to that of his family and friends yet I want you to know we do have a connection. I wore that bracelet well into the 1980's. And it is with immense pride that I look at it now. Rest in peace my friend, you have travelled in my heart since I was a little girl, and you will live there always. Blessings to your family and the future generations that I know you are smiling down upon.

Rowyn J. Capers

24 Nov 2006

In memorium Maj Charles E Finney, I too have worn your bracelet for many years. Too scared to look your name up and hoped you were still alive somewhere. I too served in the Marine Corps, proudly and honorably.

I have a son now, he's 2 years old. I hope some day with great regret my son won't have to go in the military and see what I have seen. I think sometimes of the dear friends I have lost thru the years. How are their families now? Do they know why we did it? Is it something they will ever understand? I wish one day we will end this senseless violence toward each other and understand we are all uniquely different and yet so very much the same. We all bleed the same dark blood when we are wounded. We all cry when a loved one passes.

I hope your family has closure now, and remembers you for your sense of humor, honor, loyalty to God, Country, and Family. Semper Fidelis

A grateful nation for your sacrifice.
From a former Marine.
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

25 May 2007

My daughter, age 13, received the bracelet for Charles Finney a few weeks ago. Her assignment from one of the members of Rolling Thunder was to get online and find as much information she could about this heroic Marine. We did just that. She said she now feels connected to him, he's not just a name, but a true American Hero.

This Memorial Day weekend, we will be in Washington DC, where we will place the bracelet near his name, and pencil over his name in order to bring it home with us. He will be in our hearts forever.

Lisa Dodson

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The Marine Air Group 12 Command Chronology for March 1969 contains the following entry:
"Captain Charles E. FINNEY 094692/7583 USMC and 1/Lt Steven R. ARMITSTEAD 094095/7511 USMCR both members of VMA(AW)-533 were declared missing in action when their A6A aircraft struck ground and exploded during night bombing mission."

Debrief sheet for Armitstead/Finney
Mission 1056, 17 March 1969
From the VMA(AW)-533 Command Chronology

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Steve Arnold
Santa Cruz, CA

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index F
MS State Index . Panel 29W
VMA(AW)-533 Index

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 04 May 1999
Last updated 11/04/2007