DUNN, MICHAEL EDWARD
Remains Returned 12/09/99
Name: Michael Edward Dunn
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 165, USS RANGER (CVA 61)
Date of Birth: 06 July 1941 (San Fernanco, Trinidad)
Home City of Record: Napersville IL (resident of Puerto Rico)
Date of Loss: 26 January 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 184400N 1054000E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Others in Incident: Norman E. Eidsmoe (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 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
SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude,
carrier based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and
electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support,
all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night
interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as
DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack Navigation Equipment) allowed small
precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located
and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were
credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war,
including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and
Haiphong. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most talented
and most courageous to serve the United States.
LCDR Norman E. Eidsmoe was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 165 onboard
the aircraft carrier USS RANGER. On January 26, 1968, Eidsmoe launched with
his Bombardier/Navigator (BN) from the carrier in their A6A Intruder attack
aircraft on a low-level, single-plane, night strike mission into North
Vietnam. Two A4 Skyhawk and two A7 Corsair attack aircraft were scheduled to
provide mission support if required.
The flight proceeded normally to the initial run-in point at the coast. The
flight was tracked inbound to approximately 5 miles from the target at which
time radar contact was lost dur to low altitude and distance from tracking
stations. Support aircraft remained on station about 30 minutes, waiting for
the attack aircraft to regain radio contact at the designated time and
position upon egress from the target area.
The support aircraft neither heard no saw the strike aircraft again. No
radio contact of any kind was heard from the aircraft. The UHF radio "guard"
frequency was monitored by all the support aircraft until low fuel states
required their return to ship. No surface-to-air missile (SAM) launches were
received and no anti-aircraft fire was noted by the support aircraft, even
though there were known enemy defenses in the target area including
automatic weapons, light and medium anti-aircraft artillery and one known
The search and rescue (SAR) expanded the following day with the sortie of
two RA5C Vigilante reconnaissance aircraft. The electronic and photographic
search produced no significant findings. It was later determined that the
aircraft had crashed approximately 7 kilometers north of the city of Vinh,
Nghe An Province, North Vietnam.
Eidsmoe and Dunn were declared Missing in Action. When 591 Americans were
returned at the end of the war, Dunn and Eidsmoe were not among them. Unlike
"MIAs" from other wars, many of the over 2300 who remain missing for can be
accounted for. And, tragically, thousands of reports have amassed indicating
that some are still held prisoner against their will.
Whether Dunn survived the downing of his plane that day in January 1968 is
unknown. What is clear, however, is that someone knows what happened to him.
It's time we learned his fate, and brought all our men home.
Michael E. Dunn graduated from Texas A & M in 1963. He was advanced to the
rank of Lieutenant Commander during the period he was maintained missing.
Norman E. Eidsmoe was promoted to the rank of Commander during the period he
was maintained missing.
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS December 9, 1999
The remains of four American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from the
Vietnam war have been identified and are being returned to their families
for burial in the United States.
They are identified as Navy Capt. Norman E. Eidsmoe, Rapid City, S.D.; Navy
Lt. Cmdr. Michael E. Dunn, Naperville, Ill.; Army Capt. David May,
Hyattsville, Md.; and Army Chief Warrant Officer Jon E. Reid, Phoenix, Ariz.
On Jan. 26, 1968, Eidsmoe and Dunn were flying a night low-level bombing
mission over North Vietnam off the carrier USS Ranger. Approximately 30
minutes after takeoff, their A-6A Intruder disappeared from the carrier's
radar, as expected. Accordingly, they radioed that they were six minutes
from the target, but no further radio contact was heard. The plane did not
return to the carrier, and a search and rescue mission was initiated, but
In 1992 and 1993, four separate investigations led a U.S.-Vietnamese team to
a Vietnamese farmer who described the crash, gave investigators a pilot's
flight bag with Dunn's name inscribed, and described his burial of some
remains in an unmarked grave. Then in 1997, a joint team conducted an
excavation in a flooded rice paddy, where they recovered remains and
pilot-related items. Another team continued the excavation in 1998 where
they recovered additional materials.
On Feb. 20, 1971, May and Reid were flying their UH-1C Huey helicopter on an
emergency resupply mission over Laos when they were hit by enemy ground fire
and crashed. A search and rescue mission was repulsed by hostile fire.
In 1994, 1996 and 1998, U.S. and Lao investigators interviewed villagers in
the area of the crash, then initiated an excavation which recovered human
remains as well as portions of an identification tag with the name "May,
David M." Analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army
Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed the identification of
each of these four servicemen.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the
governments of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Lao People's
Democratic Republic that resulted in the accounting of these servicemen. We
hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future.
Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the
highest national priority.
Saturday, December 11, 1999 -- Pgs. A1/A6
FINALLY, CLOSURE FOR FLIER’S FAMILY
DNA tests establish identity of a Whidbey pilot shot down in 1968
By: Ed Offley
P-I Military Reporter
After a near lifetime of uncertainty and sorrow, a Western Washington
family is preparing to bury a husband and father who vanished over North
Vietnam more than 30 years ago.
The Pentagon announced this week that its search for the crash site of a
Whidbey Island-based A-6A Intruder had ended with the positive
identification of the remains of Navy Capt. Norman E. Eidsmoe and Lt. Cmdr.
Michael E. Dunn.
Eidsmoe was the pilot and Dunn the bombardier-navigator of the Intruder,
which took off from the aircraft carrier USS Ranger on a nighttime,
low-level bombing mission over North Vietnam on Jan. 26, 1968.
(Eidsmoe was a lieutenant junior grade when he was shot down. The
Defense Department routinely promoted servicemen missing in action as the
years passed to provide income and benefits to the families, officials said.
Eidsmoe's final rank was that of Navy captain.)
About 30 minutes after takeoff that night in 1968, the two officers
radioed that they were about six minutes from their target. That was the
last anyone heard from them.
Eidsmoe's wife, Betsy, was at home in Oak Harbor with her five preteen
children when Navy officers came to her door to tell her that her husband of
10 years was missing in action. She remained a resident of the Navy town on
Whidbey Island, raising their five children and running a gift shop until
her retirement last year.
"For years, it was just an unsure status, not knowing one thing or
another," said son Ken Eidsmoe, 40, a stores supervisor for Alaska Airlines
at Sea-Tac airport.
Norman Eidsmoe's fate remained a mystery for years. In 1993, a search
team found what it thought was the wreckage site of their plane, his widow
It was a false alarm.
"The time frame was close by when my husband went down, but (later
research showed) the circumstances did not fit," she said.
Pentagon searchers returned to the region in 1997 and found a Vietnamese
farmer who said a second aircraft had been shot down in the same area. He
took them to the site, produced a charred air crew bag with Dunn's name on
it, and led them to an unmarked grave.
Military search teams returned last year and recovered both remains and
shreds of flight gear.
Although the Pentagon made its announcement just last week, the family
learned of the pilot's fate earlier this year.
Eidsmoe's sister and niece had provided blood samples to the Pentagon.
The U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii in July called
Betsy Eidsmoe to inform her that DNA testing had confirmed her husband's
identity as well as Dunn's. A team of forensic experts visited the Eidsmoe
family in September to provide a detailed briefing on the crash excavations
and analysis of the evidence, Ken Eidsmoe said.
Betsy Eidsmoe said the passage of time helped blunt the shock of learning
that her husband had been found.
"For me, when they identified the aircraft wreckage back in 1997, I sort
of felt that was it," she said. "But I didn't expect them to get that far"
to actually locate his remains, she added.
Everett resident Tom Eidsmoe, 37, was 6 years old when his father
"It wasn't an event that really hit me," Tom Eidsmoe said of the
discovery. "If anything I was more relieved for my mom."
Ken's twin sister, Katherine Eidsmoe Nienhuis, is a high school teacher
in Oak Harbor. Two of the children are currently serving in the military.
Steven Eidsmoe is a 37-year-old Marine major and helicopter pilot based in
San Diego, and Robert Eidsmoe, 35, is a Navy lieutenant commander and
helicopter pilot currently attending the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
Betsy Eidsmoe said the family -- including 12 grandchildren who never
knew their Navy grandfather -- is planning a formal funeral ceremony next
April at Arlington National Cemetery.
Dunn's family will bury the Navy flier at a private ceremony next month
in Illinois, she said.
"I think the closure will be good for all the children and
grandchildren," she said.
Tom Eidsmoe said his mother has always avoided "any public scene"
regarding her emotional ordeal although it has been a heavy burden for her.
"I think she's taken this very well," he said. "She's been terrific,
very positive and is relieved to finally have some closure to it."
Family members said they have been gratified to hear from a number of
Eidsmoe's former shipmates and fliers in the weeks since the Pentagon's
formal determination that his remains had been identified. Word of the
decision had circulated within the naval aviation community and was the
subject of a Veterans Day column by military commentator Tom Philpott.
Eidsmoe and Dunn were two of three Whidbey fliers who had been listed as
missing in action in Vietnam. The remains of a third Oak Harbor pilot, Lt.
Cmdr. Gerald Ray Roberts, were retrieved in Vietnam in 1994. His family
held a burial at sea ceremony from the USS Carl Vinson in the Strait of Juan
de Fuca in 1997.
Twenty-three other Whidbey Island fliers died in Vietnam, said base
spokesman Howard Thomas.
Since the restoration of diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1993, the
remains of 551 missing U.S. military personnel have been found and
identified, according to the Defense Missing Personnel Office. This
includes 12 servicemen listed as Washington state residents.
Some 30 years ago, long before I went to Vietnam or became a journalist,
I had a bracelet inscribed with the name of a missing American pilot.
The name was Norman Eidsmoe.
I wore the POW/MIA bracelet in college as a reminder that the conflict,
which had torn apart my country, was still measured in individual lives.
I can't remember where I got it. My parents may have seen an article
about an organization encouraging people not to forget the hundreds -- later
thousands -- of servicemen who had died or lingered in POW camps.
I wore the bracelet to several anti-war demonstrations.
I wore it to Navy boot camp.
I wore it aboard the carrier USS Midway when we deployed in the Tonkin
Gulf in 1971.
I wore it when I returned from the war and began working as a reporter.
In 1973, when the POWs came home from Hanoi, I put the bracelet away.
I had not thought of the name on the bracelet until yesterday, when I saw
the Pentagon announcement and began writing this story.
-- Ed Offley
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