Name: Joseph Peter Fanning
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 606th Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Date of Birth: 25 June 1944
Home City of Record: Long Island City NY
Date of Loss: 13 December 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170100N 1055900E (XD055824)
Status (In 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: C123K
Refno: 1340

Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.

Other Personnel in Incident: On C123K: Douglas Dailey; Morgan Donahue; John
S. Albright; Samuel Walker; Fred L. Clarke (all missing); On B57B: Thomas W.
Dugan; Francis J. McGouldrick (all missing)


SYNOPSIS: On December 13, 1968, the crew of a C123K was dispatched from
Nakhon Phanom Airfield located in northern Thailand near the border of Laos
on an operational mission over Laos. The C123 was assigned night patrol
missions along the Ho Chi Minh trail. Flying low at 2000-3000 feet, the job
of the seven man crew was to spot enemy truck convoys on the trail and to
light up the trails for accompanying B57 bombers which were flying overhead.

The crew on this particular mission included the pilot (name unknown); 1Lt.
Joseph P. Fanning, co-pilot; 1Lt. John S. Albright, navigator; 1Lt. Morgan
J. Donahue, navigator; SSgt. Samuel F. Walker, SSgt. Douglas V. Dailey,
TSgt. Fred L. Clarke, crewmembers. At 0330 hours, as the aircraft was flying
about 30 miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass in Laos, the crew of the C123
were jolted by a blow on the top of their plane in the after section. An
overhead B57 that had been called in for an air strike had collided with the
control plane. The C123 lost power and went out of control. The pilot,
stunned by a blow to the head, lost consciousness.

The plane did not fall straight to the ground, but drifted lazily to the
ground in a flat spin which lasted several minutes. When the pilot regained
consciousness, he noted that the co-pilot (Fanning) and navigator (Donahue)
were gone. Donahue's station was in the underbelly of the plane where, lying
on his stomach, he directed an infared detection device through an open
hatch. The pilot parachuted out, landed in a treetop where he remained until
rescued at dawn. On the way down, he saw another chute below him, but,
because of the dark, was unable to determine who the crew member was.

Intelligence reports after the incident indicate that Donahue, at least,
safely reached the ground near Tchepone, but suffered a broken leg. A
refugee who escaped captivity in Laos in 1974 reported having observed an
American prisoner brough to the caves near Tchepone, where he was held, in
the period between 1968 and 1970. This American was later moved to another
location unknown to the refugee.

Several reports referring to "Moe-gan" and others describing Donahue as the
American called the "animal doctor" were received over the years since war's
end. In June and August, 1987, the Donahue family was given intelligence
reports tracking Morgan's movements from a POW camp in Kham Kuet, Khammouane
Province, Laos in the spring of 1987 to another camp in the Boualapha
District of the same province in August 1987. These reports were mere WEEKS
old, yet the U.S. marked them "routine". One of them gave Morgan's aircraft
type and serial number, which turned out to be, instead of the serial number
of the aircraft, Morgan's father's ZIP CODE. Morgan's family believes this
is clearly a signal to them from Morgan.

The crew of the C123K are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in
Laos. Many of these men were alive on the ground. The Lao admitted holding
American prisoners but these men were never negotiated for. Where are they?
Are they alive? Imagine the torture the Donahue family endures knowing
Morgan is alive, yet helpless to do anything to help him. What are we doing
to help bring them home?

John S. Albright II and Morgan J. Donahue graduated in 1967 from the United
States Air Force Academy.




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On December 13, 1968, a C-123K Provider (tail number 54-0600, call sign "Candlestick 44") with a crew of seven left Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand, for a mission over Savannakhet Province, Laos. The Provider was the forward air controller for another aircraft on the same mission, and the two aircraft collided. The crews of other aircraft in the area saw a large fireball that seemed to break up into three smaller fireballs and crash. It was later determined that one of the aircraft broke in two during the collision, accounting for the three fireballs observed. The pilot of the C-123K parachuted to the ground and was picked up by a search and rescue (SAR) team later the same day. He was the only individual to survive the collision; no other parachutes were observed and no other rescue beeper signals were received. SAR efforts continued for several more hours after rescuing the pilot but no other remains were found or recovered. 

First Lieutenant Joseph Peter Fanning, who joined the U.S. Air Forces from New York, served with the 606th Special Operations Squadron. He was the copilot of the C-123 when it collided with another aircraft, and his remains were not recovered. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Air Force promoted First Lieutenant Fanning to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Fanning is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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