DAFFRON, THOMAS CARL
REMAINS IDENTIFIED 08/05/99
Name: Thomas Carl Daffron
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cam Ranh Bay, SV
Date of Birth: 25 September 1943
Home City of Record: Pinckneyville IL
Date of Loss: 18 February 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170600N 1060700E (XD070912)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: Charles F. Morley (Missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 April 1990 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.
SYNOPSIS: When North Vietnam began to increase their military strength in
South Vietnam, NVA and Viet Cong troops again intruded on neutral Laos for
sanctuary, as the Viet Minh had done during the war with the French some
years before. The border road, termed the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" was used for
transporting weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were
shot down trying to stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam.
Fortunately, search and rescue teams in Vietnam were extremely successful
and the recovery rate was high.
Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains
between Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact
with search and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been
captured. Hanoi's communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke
of American prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated,
Laos was not included, and not a single American was released that had been
held in Laos.
The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a
multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
Capt. Thomas C. Daffron and 1Lt. Charles F. Morley were pilots attached to
the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bah, South Vietnam. On
February 18, 1970, they were assigned an operational mission over the Ho Chi
Minh Trail in Laos. Daffron served as the pilot, while Morley flew as
navigator - the "guy in back."
During the mission, a fireball was seen on the ground which was presumed to
be the downed aircraft of Daffron and Morley. Observers saw no parachutes
and heard no emergency radio beepers. There was no clear evidence that the
crew had safely ejected, but it was not known that they did not. Daffron and
Morley were declared Missing in Action.
Morley once wrote his wife of 5 years, "May you always wait for me, may I
never keep you waiting again." Yet, over 15 years later, both wait. Morley
is one of nearly 2500 in Southeast Asia, and nearly 600 in Laos who did not
return from the war. Unlike "MIAs" from other wars, most of these men can be
accounted for. Further, and even more significant, mounting evidence
indicates that there are hundreds of them still alive in captivity.
Refugees fleeing Southeast Asia have come with reports of Americans still
held in captivity. There are many such reports that withstand the closest
scrutiny the U.S. Government can give, yet official policy admits only to
the "possibility" that Americans remain as captives in Southeast Asia.
Until serious negotiations begin on Americans held in Southeast Asia, the
families of nearly 2500 Americans will wonder, "Where are they?" And the
families of many, many more future fighting men will wonder, "Will our sons
be abandoned, too?"
Thomas C. Daffron graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1965.
During the period he was maintained missing, Charles F. Morley was promoted
to the rank of Major.
MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS August 5, 1999
The remains of three Americans have been identified from the war in
Southeast Asia and are being returned to their families for burial in the
They are identified as Maj. Charles F. Morley of Warrensburg, Mo. and Capt.
Thomas C. Daffron of Pinckneyville, Ill., both of the U.S. Air Force. A
third Air Force officer, once missing in action from North Vietnam, was also
identified but at the request of his family his name will not be released.
On Feb. 18, 1970 Morley and Daffron were flying a night strike mission over
Khammouan Province, Laos, when their F-4C Phantom was struck by enemy
anti-aircraft fire. The crew of the other aircraft in the flight reported
seeing a large fireball erupt approximately one mile east of the target
area. There were no responses to the search and rescue radio calls and no
emergency beeper signals were detected. Four days of additional search and
rescue operations met with negative results.
In May of 1993 a joint U.S./Laos team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full
Accounting, interviewed several villagers in Khammouan Province who provided
details about a nearby aircraft crash. Following the interview, the team
was led to the crash site where they found wreckage and pilot-related items
consistent with an F-4 crash.
In July and August of 1995 a second joint team excavated the crash site
surveyed in 1993. The team recovered human remains and crew-related items.
A third joint team completed the excavation in October of 1995 recovering
additional human remains and crew-related items.
Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army
Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed the identification of
these servicemen. With the accounting of these three, there are now 2,057
Americans unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Since the release of
American POWs in 1973, the remains of 526 MIAs from Southeast Asia have been
accounted-for and returned to their families for burial with full military
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the
governments of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam 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. -END-