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, Commander 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. or 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 Commander 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.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans from all conflicts, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo, or call 703-699- 1169.