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Brotherhood, the highest degree of honor


Why is Thomas Earl Dunlop
Still Not Accounted For????



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
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.
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.

"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."

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