DUNLOP, THOMAS EARL Remains Identified 2004
Name: Thomas Earl Dunlop Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 22, USS CORAL SEA Date of Birth: 10 July 1930 Home City of Record: Neptune Beach FL Date of Loss: 06 April 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 172300N 1063800E (XE735170) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A7E Refno: 1816 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2005.
SYNOPSIS: The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the Communists as early as August 1964. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the first U.S. Navy strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in North Vietnam in early 1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first photography of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1 Skyraider fighter aircraft was retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The CORAL SEA participated in Operation Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and remained on station to assist the crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by Cambodian forces in 1975. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific.
One of the aircraft that launched off the decks of the CORAL SEA was the Vought A7 Corsair II, a single-seat attack jet. According to pilots, forward air controllers (FAC) loved the A7, especially in North Vietnam. Whenever A7s were around, they'd try to get them because of their ability to put the ordnance right where it was supposed to be. The accuracy had little to do with pilot technique, it was the bombing computers onboard the aircraft at the time. The Corsair manufacturer had as many technical reps onboard the ship as there were pilots, and they reps had the airplanes tuned to perfection. A7s were also good on fuel, with an exceptionally long range over 700 miles.
In the early weeks of the CORAL SEA's 1972 tour, its attack squadrons started going after targets in North Vietnam in April. There were a lot of missiles, and a lot of bullets. The action was faster than it had been in previous tours.
The Air Wing commander of Attack Squadron 22 when it departed on its 1972 cruise was CDR Thomas E. Dunlop, an A7 pilot. Early in May, Dunlop launched on a mission over Quang Binh Province. When he was about 5 miles south of the city of Dong Hoi, Dunlop's aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) and he was forced to eject.
Whether Dunlop survived the downing of his aircraft is uncertain. He was classified Missing in Action. No one saw him in prisoner of war camps, nor have his remains been found.
For nearly 20 years, the Vietnamese have denied knowledge of the fate of Thomas E. Dunlop, even though the U.S. believes he could probably be accounted for -- dead or alive. By 1980, the Department of the Air Force had declared him dead, based on no specific information he was still alive.
Disturbing testimony was given to Congress in 1980 that the Vietnamese "stockpiled" the remains of Americans to return at politically advantageous times. Could Dunlop be waiting, in a casket, for just such a moment?
Even more disturbing are the nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S. relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia. Could Dunlop be among these?
Perhaps the most compelling questions when remains are returned are, "Is it really who they say it is?", and "How -- and when -- did he die?" As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient way to show "progress" on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive.
As long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we must do everything possible to bring him home -- alive.
==================== National League of Families POW/MIA UPDATE September 15, 2004
POW/MIAs - VIETNAM WAR: According to DoD announcements, there are now 1,853 Americans listed as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, 1,414 in Vietnam, 377 in Laos, 55 in Cambodia and 7 in PRC territorial waters. DPMO recently announced that CDR Thomas E. Dunlop, USN, from Florida, MIA in North Vietnam April 6, 1972, is accounted for, with remains recovered in May, 2003, and recently identified. There reportedly have been several more accounted for, but since no DPMO announcement has been made, their names have not been made public, and the number still missing has not reduced accordingly. Over 90% of all Americans missing from the Vietnam War were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia under Hanoi's wartime control.
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 270-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE Mar 18, 2005 Media Contact: (703)697-5131 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
Missing in Action Serviceman Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Navy Commander Thomas E. Dunlop of Neptune Beach, Fla., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on March 21.
On April 6, 1972, Dunlop took off in his A-7E *Corsair II* from the USS Coral Sea on a bombing mission of enemy targets in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. While over the target area, his aircraft was struck by an enemy surface-to-air missile and as his wingman watched, Dunlop's aircraft exploded in a fireball and crashed. No emergency beeper signals were received from the area of his crash.
In April 1993, joint U.S. and Vietnamese teams interviewed five residents of Quang Binh Province about the crash, but the information did not further the investigation. In 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998, U.S. and Vietnamese investigators interviewed at least 13 other people in the province without results. Meanwhile, U.S. survey teams visited potential crash sites in 1995, 1998 and twice in 2002. Again, no useful information was obtained.
Then in 2003 and again in 2004, specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) excavated a crash site where they found aircraft debris, personal effects and human remains later identified by JPAC scientists as those of Dunlop.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,836 are from the Vietnam War with 1,399 of those within the country of Vietnam. Another 747 Americans have been accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War.
March 25, 2005 Navy commander laid to rest after 30 years
by Dennis Ryan Pentagram staff writer
The Navy Band's somber funeral notes wafted across Section 66 of Arlington National Cemetery Monday morning. It took almost 33 years for the family and friends of Cmdr. Thomas E. Dunlop to hear that melancholy martial tune.....