FANNING, HUGH MICHAEL Name: Hugh Michael Fanning Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps Unit: 1st Marine Air Wing, Da Nang Date of Birth: 12 July 1941 (Washington DC) Home City of Record: Ft. Worth TX (family in OK) Date of Loss: 31 October 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 205000N 1061200E (XJ248040) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Other Personnel in Incident: Stephen Kott (remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Update by the P.O.W. NETWORK with information provided by Kathyrn Fanning June 1997. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: Hugh M. Fanning was born in Washington D.C. July 12, 1941. He lived in New York, where his parents later made their home, and attended college and lived in Irving, Texas. Hugh and his wife, Kathryn, attended the University of Dallas in Irving and moved to Fort Worth after Hugh graduated. They then attended Texas Christian University where Hugh was working on his Masters; Kathryn was continuing her B.A. (which she finished after his plane went down.) In 1964, Hugh taught math at Fort Worth's Trinity Valley Boys School, before joining the Marine Corps. His wife and children lived in Alameda, CA when he went to Vietnam as a Marine pilot with the First Marine Air Wing based at Da Nang, South Vietnam. Fanning flew the A6A Intruder, an all-weather, low-altitude attack plane. On October 31, 1967, Capt. Fanning and bombardier/navigator Capt. Stephen J. Kott were sent on a mission over North Vietnam as number two in a flight of two aircraft on a night electronics support mission. Their radio code name was "Oatmeal." At about 1:50 a.m., Fanning indicated he was approaching the target. At 2:02 a.m., the leader observed a bright orange flash in the vicinity of the target area and in the estimated position of Fanning's aircraft which he estimated to be about 15 miles east of Hanoi at an altitude of 100-500 feet. It was believed that Fanning and Kott could have survived the crash of the aircraft, and the two were classified Missing in Action. The U.S. believed that the Vietnamese could account for them. Several reports surfaced concerning the crash of Fanning's and Kott's plane in the ensuing years, including one account that Kott was killed in the crash, but Fanning was captured and taken away by jeep. The accuracy of these reports is uncertain. In August, 1984, remains were returned by the Vietnamese proported to be those of Fanning and Kott. Mrs. Fanning was glad the years of waiting had finally ended. Her casualty assistance officer assured her that existing dental records of her husband's matched those of the remains, an important means of identification. Moreover, he assured her that her husband had not been wounded in the skull, the focus of a recurring dream that had plagued her for years. The remains were buried with full military honors in Oklahoma City. It was not until 11 months later, in July of 1985, when she was first allowed access to her husband's forensic file, that Mrs. Fanning learned that there had been NO skull and NO teeth in the remains proported to be Hugh Fanning. Mrs. Fanning states " It wasn't just because I discovered I had buried only 15-20% of a skeleton (no skull and teeth as discussed with my Casualty Assistance Officer)...the main reason I exhumed the grave was discovering (that day in July, 85 at the National League of Families Meeting) pages and pages of live sighting reports on microfiche in my husband's records. You see, the Marines had consistently maintained there was no indication at all what might have happened to my husband. NO MENTION of live sighting reports or their own recommendation that his status be changed from MIA to POW based on an identification of his photo by North Vietnam ralliers -- along with accurate accounts of his rank, description, time of incident, etc. Hugh's plane was the only one that went down on Oct. 31, 1967 (in any branch of the service), so it makes the incident easier to pinpoint." Mrs. Fanning arranged for the remains to be exhumed and examined independently. The examiner concluded that the alleged remains of Hugh Fanning could not have been scientifically identified as his ... or anyone else's. The official identification of the set of remains as Hugh Fanning was recinded. The Kott family has accepted the positive identification of the remains said to be those of Stephen Jay Kott. He has been buried with full military honors. Whether Hugh Fanning died on October 31, 1967 in the crash of his plane or was taken prisoner is not known. It can only be known with certainty when proof is obtained of his death, or Major Fanning himself is brought home alive. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fanning says, "My husband may be dead. However, until positive proof is given to me, I must entertain the possibility that he may be alive. Regardless of my husband's chances, I do believe that live Americans still remain in Southeast Asia. I will continue to search for the truth." Hugh Michael Fanning and Stephen Jay Kott were promoted to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained missing. Kathryn returned to Texas to finish her college degree after Hugh's crash. She moved back to her homwtown of Oklahoma City in 1976 after completing a second college degree at the University of Arkansas. Although the supposed remains of Hugh Fanning were sent home, his wedding ring, personal effects, or crash-site artifacts have never been recovered. ---------------------------------- U.S. Veteran News and Report July 1991 Tom Cartwright MARINES CAUGHT ATTEMPTING TO BURY DISCREDITED REMAINS The U.S. Marine Corp, was caught in an indefensible effort to inter at Arlington National Cemetery on July 15 'unidentifiable' remains, returned by Hanoi, as those of a Marine officer on the list of approximately 2,300 Americans still missing in action from the Vietnam War. The burial was to be made without any notification given to the serviceman's wife, the primary next of kin in the case. The disgusting episode was halted due to the efforts of Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), who has been a leader in Congress in the POW-MIA movement to account for America's missing servicemen. Smith, having learned about the plans for the burial while Congress was in recess for the July 4 holiday, notified the Marines on July 12 that there would not be any burial of remains at Arlington, passing them off as those of Marine Major Hugh M. Fanning of Oklahoma City,. He became missing on Oct.31, 1967, when his A-6 aircraft was shot down over North Vietnam. The Marine Corps brass spent the night of July 12 and early morning hours of July 13 attempting to get other members of Fanning's family to approve of the burial. Smith interceded again on behalf of Major Fanning's wife, Kathryn, and the Marine Corps dropped their plans for the burial. Smith has initiated a detailed investigation of the disgusting episode. TO HIGHLIGHT LEAGUE MEETING Sources have told the U.S. VETERAN that an announcement of the July 12 burial ceremony was to be featured during the annual meeting of the National League of POW-MIA Families, which was held in Washington from July 11 to 14. Mrs. Fanning found out from her husband's father, William J. Fanning, Jr., that the Marines had attempted to obtain his approval for the burial, which would include his acceptance of the remains as his son. He refused but told Mrs. Fanning that the Marines had not stopped at that point but had contacted the Marine officer's mother in Canada and talked her into approving the burial and accepting the remains. The elderly Fannings are estranged. For her assistance in facilitating the burial process Major Fanning's mother was promised airline tickets to attend the funeral ceremony. Actually, such an effort by the Marines is unprecedented, since Kathryn, as the wife of the MIA, is primary next of kin. Nevertheless, the effort by the Marines to bury "unidentifiable remains" as Major Fanning without her knowledge is not the first trick that the Pentagon has attempted to pull on her, in its endeavors to remove her husband from the government's list of Americans still POW or MIA in Southeast Asia. Mrs. Fanning and her three children buried what they were led to believe were the remains of Major Fanning at Rose Hill , Burial Park in Oklahoma City in August, 1984. The skeletal remains, that they contended were her husband's, are among those that have been returned by Hanoi over the past several years, a few sets at a time, although the Pentagon is fully aware that the Vietnamese have at least 400 sets of remains in a warehouse in Hanoi. Mrs. Fanning stated that she was told prior to the August, 1984, burial ceremony that the remains had been identified, beyond all doubt, since they included teeth, which had been matched with Major Fanning's dental records. Mrs. Fanning later learned, however, that the remains did not even include a skull, let alone identifiable teeth. They consisted of 30 bone fragments from an arm, hand, leg, ankle and foot. HAD REMAINS EXHUMED About a year had passed when Mrs. Fanning obtained a court order to have the remains exhumed and examined by two of America's leading forensic anthropologists. Dr. Clyde Collins Snow, a consultant forensic anthropologist for the Oklahoma state medical examiner's office, in a 30 page report on his exhumation of the skeletal remains concluded that "available osteological evidence is not sufficient to positively identify the remains as those of Major Fanning." Upon examining the "paper work" of the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, where all POW-MIA remains are identified , including those of Major Fanning, Dr. Michael Charney, director of the Center of Human Identification at Colorado State University, reported: "It is not possible to positively, individually, make an identification of the skeletal remains as shown in the reports as that of Major Fanning. In none of the submitted reports is there any statements as to how such an identification was made. Further claims made on Form DD 892 and another form (no number) as to the sex, race, age, height, dexterity, musculature cannot be scientifically supported for the race, age and dexterity or handedness [right or left handed]. With race undetermined this leaves the estimate of height in question. The skull or pertinent portions of such are required for this determination. This was not on hand. The age indicated on the report, 25 to 30, would only have been possible to ascertain if the pubic sym-physical face was present. It was not. If the scapula body was intact, a trans-illumination might have also sufficed assuming the the bone had not weathered badly in the intervening 17 years, but this was also missing. Again, this age might have been made if an osteon analysis of a cross section of the tibia had been made. There is no indication that such was done. One can say that these bones are those of a person over the age of 19 or 20." Dr. Snow, who was one of the forensic anthropologists called upon to identify the remains of Nazi death camp doctor, Josef Mengele, said the remains did bear the physical characteristics of Major Fanning along with about 80 percent 'of all of the U.S. pilots who had flown missions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Following the exhumation and critical reports issued by Drs. Snow and Charney, the Marine Corps issued a memorandum on August 7, 1987, which acknowledged that 'On 18 May 1987 ASGRO [Armed Services Graves Registration Office] convened a board which reviewed all findings relating to the identification of Major Fanning's remains and determined that insufficient evidence existed to support the original identification' and that further evaluation should be conducted by the Central Identification Laboratories, "Since then, I guess you can say they have been bullying me to try to get me to accept the remains," Mrs. Fanning reportedly told a Washington, D.C. newspaper. Mrs. Fanning returned the remains to the Marines in July, 1987, in a cool ceremony held at Colorado State University. Currently, the Pentagon has ordered a DNA examination of the skeletal remains,which will compare their DNA characteristics with those of Maj. Fanning's children. Wed Dec 10 1997 From: Joe Schlatter
Subject: Fanning, Hugh, MAJ, USMC There is a glaring omission in your pow info page regarding Major Hugh Fanning: The remains that had been identified as Fanning and exhumed later at his wife's request were subjected to mitochondrial DNA testing. The DNA extracted from those remains matched precisely with DNA from MAJ Fanning's mother and sister. The remains are those of Major Fanning. Contact the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab for confirmation. NVVC Veteran Journal July-August 1994 POW-MIA The Remains Game, Continued Kathryn Fanning ... sought to have (her husband's) remains subjected to a DNA test in 1992 - which ... was finally ordered by the Marine Corps. The tests were publicly declared to be positive, Fanning said, but notes to the file on intenal documents indicate inconclusive results. Each of the bones that were eventually returned to Fanning, she said, had been completely drilled out to remove any marrow which she might use for an independent DNA test. (Fort Worth StarTelegram, Jan. 9, 1994, Tommy Denton column).