DAFFRON, THOMAS CARL
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 Category: 2 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Refno: 1561 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. NETWORK 1998.
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" planes around.
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.
----------------------------------------------- No. 128-M 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 United States.
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 honors.
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-