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.
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 freqently 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.