View Full Version : TX TX - John Victor Dial: US Air Force, 23, Childress, May 1966

05-03-2006, 12:05 PM
40 years ago ...

John Victor Dial
Missing since May 1966 from Childress, Childress County, Texas
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics
Date Of Birth: April 28, 1943
Age at Time of Disappearance: 23 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5"10; 140 lbs.
Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. Sandy blond hair; blue eyes.
Marks, Scars: He has a few freckles across his nose.
DNA: Available.

Circumstances of Disappearance
Dial was last seen in Childress, Texas in May 1966. Dial joined the Air Force when he was 16 years old and sometime after he was stationed at Howard Air Force Base in Panama Canal Zone. He went home for a visit to Childress, Texas in May 1966 then he returned to Panama in June 1966. The phone calls to his family stopped by July 1966 after he told his family he married a woman from Panama.

There is a high possibility he might be living in the United States. The American Embassy did a 4 month investigation and it was determined he is no longer living in Panama. There has not been any reported earnings on his SSN since 1968.

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Childress Police Department Childress Chief Reese Bowen 940-937-2546

Agency Case Number: 05000280
NCIC Number: M-824922682
Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.

Source Information:
The Doe Network
National Center for Missing Adults
Texas Department of Public Safety
The Doe Network: Case File 1134DMTX


10-12-2006, 12:22 PM
I wonder if John Victor Dial was discharged from the Air Force and then went missing, or if he was still on active duty when he went missing. If that were the case, he would have been in the middle of his second tour of duty (assuming a four year enlistment) and would have been declared a deserter.

If he was listed as a Deserter, he would still be in the system as such, and any appearance of him at a border crossing would have resulted in a "hit" and FBI/Air Force notification.

While not surprising that it was Dial's family who reported him missing and listed him on the Doenetwork, one wonders what information the Air Force Office of Special Investigations has on the case.

Even if Dial had been discharged from the Air Force, his disappearance may have been cause for an investigation, due to National Security concerns.

10-12-2006, 01:38 PM
16 years old is pretty young to be leaving home to join the service (might even require lying about age?) and could indicate a problematic relationship with his relatives at home.
I haven't read anything about this case other than post one on this thread but I have to say that, reading between the lines, it sounds like a family dispute over the marriage of the man to a panamanian woman caused him to stop communicating with his realtives.

He may even have felt strongly enough about such a dispute to not want to share the same last name as his relatives. I don't know if he would have intentionally stopped using the SS number or if he perhaps passed away (from a work accident or car wreck etc) while using the new unknown name and so no one but the wife knew to notify the relative but she may have felt that his wish to sever all ties to his relatives should be honored. (Or she too may have passed away in the same event as the husband.) This is all just speculation but thats what the info strikes me as meaning.

10-12-2006, 02:11 PM
I wonder where he was earning money in 1967-68 (since he went missing in 1966)? Was it in Panama or the US?

10-12-2006, 03:30 PM
I did a quick but not extremely thorough websearch and found:

John Victor Dial, US Air Force, Missing since May 1966
I found this
". . . he came home for a visit May 1966 and he had married Elsa (Caballero) Dial from Panama her family was from around Panama City after about a month all contact stopped and days, months, and years went by.
My grandparents never filed a police report and I don't know why not. . ."
"I wanted to check in to say that I am still searching for
Elsa Dial a daughter maybe Verxia Dial or Llorando
Dial not real sure about the daughter's name she maybe
living in Panama City I have an address,phone number on
them but, I believe she does not speak english would some-
one from Panama please contact me to call her and find out
if she is in fact the Elsa Dial I am looking for that was
married to my uncle John Victor Dial birthdate 4/28/43 he
has not been seen since 1963 also I received new information
yesterday that has been helpful I was able to get his
military personnel records under the provisions of the
Freedom Of Information Act of all the releasable information
on my uncle.I was able to learn his service number,his rank
was a sergeant and he did not got to Howard A.F.B. until
June 5,1966 he was under the 5700th CE Sq,also he was in
the 24th CE Sq that was March 15, 1968.So anyone that might
have knew him please contact me? I also found out in the
early years from 1960 to 1964 he served in the 78th Civil
Eng Sqm Hamilton AFB,California.I am a calling the Veterans
Affairs Monday to see if they can provide me with information.
I believe it is possible he is still living in Panama
because of some information I was given that there has not
been any reported earnings on him since 1968 and it did
come from a reliable source which suggests he must me liv-
ing overseas.My mother has not seen her brother since he
was 18 years of age if alive today he would be 56 years
old it has been 36 years time for our family to get this
resolved both my grandparents died in 1988 so far as I know
he does not know they passed away they went to their graves
in grief not knowing what happened to their son.My mother
was a young woman the last time she saw her brother she is
in her 60's now and she is in bad health and wants to find
her brother we need to find answers to get this resolved.
My mother said I was a 2 month old baby the last time she
saw him so I guess it is natual for me to be curious.Thank
you and I do appreciate the kindness,from those that have
e-mailed me with information.

Debbie Fleming
. . ."

10-13-2006, 07:34 AM
If the Dials had children, they may go by the name Caballero. Many of my formerly South American students still use their mother's last names as is the custom in their countries--only as they become "Americanized" do they switch over to their father's last name.

10-14-2006, 11:32 AM
If the Dials had children, they may go by the name Caballero. Many of my formerly South American students still use their mother's last names as is the custom in their countries--only as they become "Americanized" do they switch over to their father's last name.
The usual practice in South and Central American countries is to use BOTH of the parents last names, Father's then Mothers. Often, in the US, it is just the last "last name" (that of the mother) that incorrectly gets published or used.

12-04-2007, 10:58 AM
bumping this case of a missing American Serviceman...

09-23-2009, 04:52 PM
Charley project now says that George called a family member in 1985 and may have returned to Childress in 1990. He is now thought to be an American auto mechanic and may be in TX.

09-23-2009, 10:08 PM
From the Charley Project page:

Dial was stationed at Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone with the United States Air Force in 1966. He went home to Childress, Texas for a visit in May 1966. He was last seen at a family member's residence in the vicinity of the 400 block of Avenue A northeast in Childress.

Dial returned to Panama in June 1966. He kept in telephone contact with his family until July of that year, when he told his family he had married a Panamanian woman named Elsa Caballero. The phone calls stopped after that until 1985, when Dial apparently telephoned a family member once. He may have returned to the Childress area for a visit sometime during 1990.
I've seen this kind of thing with other descriptions of circumstances, but I just always find it bizarre how they can go into so much detail in like 'he was last seen at this address on this date' and then suddenly at the start of the next paragraph, they provide details on his whereabouts after that. I understand that that is probably when his family last saw him; if that's the case though, that should just be said plainly instead of how it's worded now. :P

Richard, do you know if Mr. Dial's service record would still be in existence after the St. Louis fire?

09-24-2009, 04:56 PM
Too late to edit, I had it posted above that he was thought to be in TX. I have no idea where I got that from, since on second look, it only says that he is thought to be in the US, and that he did return to TX in 1990. Nothing about him still being there.
My apologies.

09-24-2009, 11:46 PM
Richard, do you know if Mr. Dial's service record would still be in existence after the St. Louis fire?

I cannot say with certainty, but it might be possible, since he was declared a deserter, at least portions of his records would have been copied into a Criminal Investigative report or file.

The fire you refer to occurred in July 1973. It destroyed Army Personnel Records from 1912 to 1973 if they were being stored at the National Military Personnel Records Center.

Some Air Force Records were also destroyed, but not all.

Navy and Marine Corps records remain intact, as they were not in the same building as Army and Air Force Records.

Military Personnel records are protected by the Privacy Act. Only the veteran, or someone he appoints with a power of attorney, or his immediate next of kin, if deceased can request portions of the records. Police can sometimes also request them if they have compelling reasons.

04-20-2012, 10:59 PM
46 years and still missing...

04-25-2012, 04:59 PM
Panama has a large ex-pat community and always has. I hope the authorities did a sufficient search for him. I know there are a lot of retired Americans in David. Because they use the American dollar (they call it a Balboa, but it's got George on it) and it is worth so much more there, many ex-mil and ex-zoners have made their homes throughout the country.

03-18-2014, 01:15 AM
Possible John Doe suicide could be John Victor Dial?


03-18-2014, 09:19 AM
Possible John Doe suicide could be John Victor Dial?


I duno. I agree the ears look wrong...as does the nose.

Perodicticus potto
03-24-2014, 02:59 AM
I've always had doubts about whether Mr Dial should be listed with missing-person databases. I don't see much evidence to suggest he is "missing" in the sense that we would normally understand the term, as opposed to having simply chosen to break off most ties with his family.

I note that none of the relatives who actually knew him found it appropriate to report him missing at the time of his "disappearance" - that was done many years later by his niece, who wanted to know what had become of her mysterious uncle. While I thoroughly sympathise with her, I also think that healthy, law-abiding adults who choose to "disappear" from their families should have their wishes respected.

Mr Dial's niece claims the U.S. embassy in Panama told her definitively that he was not living in the country. As an American who has lived abroad for nearly 15 years, I don't think embassies are actually capable of saying this. The embassy would know of his presence in Panama only if he chose to register with them. While U.S. passports state that American expats should register with the local embassy, there is no actual requirement to do so, and it's only really insisted upon in "dangerous" countries (when I phoned the U.S. embassy in London to register in 2000, they told me I needn't bother!). The niece seems to think that the embassy carried out a police-style investigation to see if Mr Dial was living anywhere in Panama - I do not believe foreign embassies have the power to do this.

I believe the American institutions most likely to know whether Mr Dial is still alive, and if so, where, would be the IRS, the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration. But his niece would not necessarily have the right to see their records - especially if he is still alive.

If Mr Dial's niece wishes to search further within Panama, she should enlist the services of a Spanish-speaker who understands Latin American society (Hispanic family names, in particular, can often trip up Anglos). There must be genealogists in the U.S. who specialise in helping Hispanic Americans trace their roots. That might be a good place to start.

Finally, Mr Dial, if you're reading this, get in touch with your niece. She loves you.

03-27-2014, 09:07 PM
So I've run into a bit of a situation with this case.

The good news:
Someone commented on my blog claiming to be the granddaughter of John Victor Dial and Elsa. This person did not give any details as to his fate, but wrote in very broken English and wanted to be put in touch with Debbie Fleming, who is the one searching for John Dial. (She has posted all over the web using her real name so privacy isn't an issue as far as using her name)

Although Debbie has posted in several places, none of them seem to lead back to a valid email address. I had one email that appears to have been used about 2 years ago but haven't gotten any reply to my message.

I also was able to obtain a phone number (I contacted Childress PD and they sent me a copy of the report) and the number just rings and rings, no voicemail or anything. I doubt it's a valid number.

She also appears to be a member of another MP site, I also tried contacting the owner of that site to see if she has any way to reach her, no response yet.

Two things would be extremely helpful if anyone has an idea...

1) A way to contact Debbie to give her this info
2) Any WSer who can communicate with this granddaughter in Spanish to at least find out what happened to John so we can report back to the police in case Debbie checks with them. I am not sure if the police are pursuing it as well, I made the mistake of leaving that part open-ended. They may be waiting on me to get back to them, as they knew I was going to try to reach Debbie.

It seems so backwards, trying to locate the searcher instead of the MP.

03-28-2014, 01:32 PM
Just an update on my previous post. I was able to get in touch with another relative and have passed the information along.

Crossing my fingers that this commenter is legit and that John's family will finally have some answers.

09-03-2014, 01:50 AM
John Dial has been found safe.

I have been in contact with his family over the last couple months, and his sister spoke with him today for the first time in over 50 years. It went well, and they plan to stay in touch.

Sue Doe Nimm
09-03-2014, 10:21 AM
I'm so happy to hear that John has been in contact with his family. Hooray for happily resolved missing person cases! :happydance:

09-08-2014, 12:23 PM
WOOOOW!!! Just stumbled across this man's story and an update this week! Truly amazing!

09-14-2014, 11:01 PM
Wonder if he was still in the Air Force when he disappeared and if he has been in contact with them since.

Pink Panther
09-16-2014, 09:35 PM
John Dial has been found safe.

I have been in contact with his family over the last couple months, and his sister spoke with him today for the first time in over 50 years. It went well, and they plan to stay in touch.

Fabulous! Without divulging info about the family can you give us any other information as to why he chose to completely disappear???

10-10-2014, 11:01 AM
This is amazing. The power of the internet :) I can knock this one off my list for 2 things. 1, no longer wondering where he is. And 2, I know he's not Joesph Newton Chandler. Incredible.

10-21-2014, 10:58 PM
Fabulous! Without divulging info about the family can you give us any other information as to why he chose to completely disappear???

I don't know for sure. I can venture a guess that he felt disowned after his parents disapproved of his marriage to the Panamanian woman. His parents are deceased, and his siblings have been searching for him.

What I do know is that he never did come back to the US, and he had no idea that he was reported missing or that his family had been searching for him. He has been in Panama all this time. I know there were some reports that he was back in Texas at some point, that was incorrect.

10-22-2014, 04:36 PM
It sounds like he didn't disappear so much as just not call home. In 1966, parts of Panama WERE the United States. Even after the Canal Zone was given back in 1979, you didn't need a US passport to travel there. Even into the late 1990s, a birth certificate was all you needed.

I'm so happy that he has been reunited with his family, at least by phone. I hope he had a lovely life in Panama.