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Maj. Donald Luna - La Porte, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member jhuoni
N 29° 45.188 W 095° 05.332
15R E 298013 N 3293258
Quick Description: As you enter the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, a flagpole is on the right. Around this pole is a circle of Freedom Trees honoring those who never returned home from Vietnam.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 8/13/2019 9:23:54 AM
Waymark Code: WM1145A
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TitusLlewelyn
Views: 8

Long Description:

The Freedom Tree
With The Vision of Universal Freedom
For All Mankind
This Tree Is Dedicated To

MAJ. DONALD LUNA

And All Prisoners of War
and
Missing in Action
1973


============================================

From the POW Network.org

LUNA, DONALD ALFRED


Name: Donald Alfred Luna
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit:
Date of Birth: 17 April 1938
Home City of Record: Houston TX
Date of Loss: 01 February 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163200N 1060500E (XD155280)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: O2A
Refno: 1369
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance of 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 1998.

REMARKS

SYNOPSIS:

All tactical strike aircraft operating in Southeast Asia had to be under the control of a Forward Air Control (FAC), who was intimately familiar with the locale, the populous, and the tactical situation. The FAC would find the target, order up U.S. fighter/bombers from an airborne command and control center or ground based station, mark the target accurately with white phosphorus (Willy Pete) rockets, and control the operation throughout the time the planes remained on station. After the fighters had departed, the FAC stayed over the target to make a bomb damage assessment (BDA).

The FAC also had to ensure that there were no attacks on civilians, a complex problem in a war where there were no front lines and any hamlet could suddenly become part of the combat zone. A FAC needed a fighter pilot's mentality, but but was obliged to fly slow and low in such unarmed and vulnerable aircraft as the Cessna O1 Bird Dog, and the Cessna O2.

Capt. Donald A. Luna was the pilot of a Cessna O2A on an operational mission near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. At a point about 10 miles southeast of that city in a pocket of Laos which intrudes on the South Vietnam border, Luna's aircraft was shot down. Luna was declared Missing in Action.

Records on American military personnel were maintained in various government agencies. Raw intelligence data from Southeast Asia frequently first found its way into the files of the organization which came to be known as Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC). Many analysts believed JCRC records were the most complete and authoritative, since they contained largely raw data without benefit of analytical "muddling".

In November 1973, JCRC received a cable from Defense Intelligence Agency which was copied to various high stations, including CIA, the Secretary of State and the White House. The cable stated JCRC should "take necessary action to delete any references pertaining to PW [Prisoner of War] status and place members in a new MIA code" the files of Donald A. Luna and several others. Whether JCRC had intelligence that indicated Donald Luna had been captured is unknown.

Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy. Whether Luna survived the crash of his aircraft to be captured by the enemy is certain not known. It is not known if he might be among those thought to be still alive today. What is certain, however, is that as long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we owe him our very best efforts to bring him to freedom.


-------------------------------------------------------------------

From the Together We Served

LUNA, DONALD ALFRED, Lt Col

This Military Service Page was created/owned by:
AB Raymond Albert Guinn to remember Luna, Donald Alfred (Nail 33), Lt Col.

Luna, Donald Alfred, Lt Col

FALLEN

Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS: 1444E-Forward Air Controller
Last AFSC Group: Air Operations
Primary Unit: 1968-1969, 504th Tactical Air Support Group
Service Years: 1960 - 1969

Casualty Info
Home Town: Houston, TX
Last Address: Ubon RTAFB, Thailand
Casualty Date: Feb 01, 1969
Cause: Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason: Air Loss, Crash - Land
Location: Laos
Conflict: Vietnam War
Location of Interment: Mahomet Cemetery - Mahomet, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates: 33W 033

Last Known Activity

At 0502 hours on 1 February 1969, then Captain Donald A. Luna, pilot of an O2A, call sign "Nail 33," departed Ubon Airfield, Thailand on a Forward Air Control (FAC) combat mission over the target area known as "VR Sector 7," Savannakhet Province, Laos. VR Sector 7 was also known as "Commando Hunt." His mission flight path was from Ubon to the Commando Hunt area and return to Ubon.

The weather conditions during his mission were widely scattered rain showers with the lower cloud layer bases at 4,000 feet and the second cloud layer with bases at 7,000 feet. Visibility was 6 miles plus with surface winds southwesterly at 6 knots.

The last radio contact with Capt. Luna was at 0653 hours as he flew over the densely forested mountains 15 miles southwest of Tchepone, Laos which were known to be under complete enemy control. At that time he reported situation normal with no indication of difficulties.

His next radio contact was scheduled for approximately 0800 hours. That contact was never made. An extensive visual and electronic search was immediately initiated along a line from Ubon to and in the target area, and in the adjacent area on either side of the intended route. This search effort was terminated at dusk the same day when no trace of Capt. Luna or his aircraft was found. Donald Luna was immediately listed Missing in Action.

Captain Luna was not reported as a prisoner by either the Pathet Lao or the North Vietnamese, nor has the crash site been located. He remains among the missing.

UPDATE
LTC Luna's remains were returned to the United States on 11/19/1999.
Identification was announced on 10/30/2000.


Comments/Citation

FAC

All tactical strike aircraft operating in Southeast Asia had to be under the control of a Forward Air Control (FAC), who was intimately familiar with the locale, the populous, and the tactical situation. The FAC would find the target, order up U.S. fighter/bombers from an airborne command and control center or ground based station, mark the target accurately with white phosphorus (Willy Pete) rockets, and control the operation throughout the time the planes remained on station. After the fighters had departed, the FAC stayed over the target to make a bomb damage assessment (BDA).

The FAC also had to ensure that there were no attacks on civilians, a complex problem in a war where there were no front lines and any hamlet could suddenly become part of the combat zone. A FAC needed a fighter pilot's mentality, but was obliged to fly slow and low in such unarmed and vulnerable aircraft as the Cessna O1 Bird Dog, and the Cessna O2.

The Cessna O2 Skymaster was the military version of the civilian Model 335 Skymaster. The twin-engine, twin-tailboom O2 had greater endurance and a little more speed than the more familiar O1 Bird Dog, but still remained essentially unarmed carrying only smoke rockets. Like its predecessor, the low flying, slow moving Skymaster was used primarily as a Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft to mark targets for both attack aircraft and ground troops.

The Incident

At 0502 hours on 01 February 1969, then Captain Donald A. Luna, pilot of an O2A (call sign "Nail 33"), departed Ubon Airfield, Thailand, on a Forward Air Control (FAC) combat mission over the target area known as "VR Sector 7," Savannakhet Province, Laos. VR Sector 7 was also known as "Commando Hunt." His mission flight path was from Ubon to the Commando Hunt area and back to Ubon.

The weather conditions during his mission were widely scattered rain showers with the lower cloud layer bases at 4,000 feet and the second cloud layer with bases at 7,000 feet. Visibility was 6 miles plus with surface winds southwesterly at 6 knots.

The last radio contact with Capt. Luna was at 0653 hours as he flew over the densely forested mountains 15 miles southwest of Tchepone, Laos which were known to be under complete enemy control. At that time he reported situation normal with no indication of difficulties.

His next radio contact was scheduled for approximately 0800 hours. That contact was never made. An extensive visual and electronic search was immediately initiated along a line from Ubon to and in the target area, and in the adjacent area on either side of the intended route. This search effort was terminated at dusk the same day when no trace of Capt. Luna or his aircraft was found. Donald Luna was immediately listed Missing in Action.

Records on American military personnel were maintained in various government agencies. Raw intelligence data from Southeast Asia frequently first found its way into the files of the organization which came to be known as Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC). Many analysts believed JCRC records were the most complete and authoritative, since they contained largely raw data without benefit of analytical "muddling".

In November 1973, JCRC received a cable from Defense Intelligence Agency which was copied to various high stations, including CIA, the Secretary of State and the White House. The cable stated JCRC should "take necessary action to delete any references pertaining to PW [Prisoner of War] status and place members in a new MIA code" the files of Donald A. Luna and several others. Whether JCRC had intelligence that indicated Donald Luna had been captured is unknown.

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