LONO, LUTHER ALBERT Remains returned 02/11/2000 id announced 07/16/01.
Name: Luther Albert Lono Rank/Branch: O4/US Marine Corps Unit: VMA 242, MAG 11 Date of Birth: 12 June 1931 Home City of Record: Tacoma WA (family in HI) Date of Loss: 29 September 1969 Country of Loss: Laos Loss Coordinates: 161500N 1065700E (XD678036) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 4 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A Refno: 1495
Other Personnel In Incident: Patrick R. Curran (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 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 2001.
SYNOPSIS: On 29 September, 1969, Maj. Luther A. Lono, pilot; and 1Lt. Patrick R. Curran, bombardier navigator were dispatched aboard an A6A to conduct an armed reconnaissance mission in support of Seventh U.S. Air Force operations over Laos. The mission was under the control of an Air Force Airborne Tactical Air Control aircraft, and was to be conducted in a heavily defended enemy area.
The mission proceeded without incident until 8:50 p.m., at which time the Airborne Tactical Air Control aircraft lost contact with the Lono/Curran aircraft. Their last radio contact had been about 25 miles west of Khe Sanh. Attempts to contact the aircraft were unsuccessful, and at 10:30 p.m., the commanding officer of the 11th Aircraft Group 11 declared them "overdue".
At this declaration, electronic search efforts began for the crew members, and a signal was received by the Tactical Air Control aircraft at 0248 hours on September 30 which was believed to be a signal from an emergency transmitter. Subsequent attempts to contact the crew were unsuccessful. A visual search began at dawn on September 30, but no sign of the crew or aircraft was found.
According to Curran's mother, Curran and Lono's aircraft quietly landed in heavily-guarded enemy territory that night, and was taken intact. Curran and Lono were either captured at that time, or executed. They were alive. Mrs. Curran believes her son is still alive, and has worked tirelessly to free him and others she believes also to be alive. Both Curran and Lono were declared Missing in Action.
Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos, but because the U.S. did not recognize the communist government there, we did not negotiate for the "tens of tens" of American prisoners the Pathet Lao stated that they held. As a result, not one American prisoner held in Laos ever returned.
Since the end of the war, nearly 10,000 reports of Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government, convincing many authorities that hundreds are still languishing in communist prisons.
Luther Lono and Patrick Curran understood that undertaking the missions they flew might mean they could be killed, wounded or captured. It probably never crossed their minds that the country they proudly served would abandon them.
UPDATE LINE: July 31, 2001 Thank you for calling the National League of Families Update Line. This message is being recorded Monday, July 31st. According to the Department of Defense, there are now 1,957 Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
On July 16th, the League learned that two Americans whose remains were jointly recovered in Laos and repatriated on February 11, 2000 are now accounted for. One, Major Luther A. Lono, USMC, was from WA, and the NOK of the other requested that the name of the other not be publicly announced.