Joseph Patrick Dunn
Missing In Action
|SYNOPSIS: LTJG Joseph P. Dunn joined the Navy in 1964. He received orders for
Vietnam in July 1967, where he was assigned to Attack Squadron 25 onboard the
USS CORAL SEA. On February 14, 1968, Dunn launched in his A1H Skyraider attack
aircraft from Cubi Point Naval Air Station, Republic of the Philippines, to relieve
another aircraft from his squadron. The flight was a ferry flight, returning a repaired
A1 aircraft to the USS CORAL SEA, accompanied by a second unarmed radar plane.
During the flight to the aircraft carrier on station in the Gulf of Tonkin, both Dunn and
his wingman drifted north of their proposed flight route and wound up off the east coast
of Hainan Island, China. The Chinese, having tracked the aircraft on radar, sent MiG
17 aircraft to turn the intruders away. Fire from one of them struck Dunn's aircraft.
The pilot of the second plane, along with three other crewmen, saw Dunn descend with
a fully opened parachute and heard the manual UHF emergency beeper sound for two
to three minutes, but then they were forced evade the attacking MiG aircraft and flew
toward the security of South Vietnam. The wingman immediately reported the shootdown
and U.S. aircraft responded within minutes of the call. Unfortunately, due to the wing-
man's perception that he was off the coast of North Vietnam and not China, the U.S.
aircraft searched the wrong area for hours. Upon his landing in South Vietnam, the
mistake was discovered and other aircraft were correctly deployed, but without success.
Eight hours after the shootdown, an electronic surveillance plane picked up a beeper
signal for 20 minutes from the vicinity of Hainan Island. It is believed that Dunn would
take approximately 8 hours to reach the island in his emergency life raft. There were
a number of junks in the region which might have picked him up. Had he drowned, his
body would have reached the island and probably have been seen by villagers.
The Chinese reported the shootdown in their radio broadcasts. Numerous newspapers
related the incident, and U.S. State Department efforts were initiated to try to get more
information. Despite the evidence that Dunn could have been captured, the Chinese
will say nothing about his fate. American envoys to China have raised the question of
Dunn's fate to no avail.
Dunn's wife and son have been very active since he disappeared in the effort to secure
information on the men still missing in Indochina. They know that Joe Dunn would want
them to press for answers. Joe himself was very concerned about friends who had been
shot down, and for the crew of the ill-fated Pueblo illegallly siezed by North Korea in
1968. They continually work to remind the American public and the government of the
United States that the fate of those nearly 2500 Americans remains unresolved and is
of utmost importance.