Name:  Hugh Michael Fanning
Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps
Unit: 1st Marine Air Wing, Da Nang
Date of Birth: 12 July 1941 (Washington DC)
Home City of Record: Ft. Worth TX (family in OK)
Date of Loss: 31 October 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 205000N 1061200E (XJ248040)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A

Other Personnel in Incident: Stephen Kott (remains returned)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Update
by the P.O.W. NETWORK with information provided by Kathyrn Fanning June


SYNOPSIS: Hugh M. Fanning was born in Washington D.C. July 12, 1941. He
lived in New York, where his parents later made their home, and attended
college and lived in Irving, Texas. Hugh and his wife, Kathryn, attended the
University of Dallas in Irving and moved to Fort Worth after Hugh graduated.
They then attended Texas Christian University where Hugh was working on his
Masters; Kathryn was continuing her B.A. (which she finished after his plane
went down.) In 1964, Hugh taught math at Fort Worth's Trinity Valley Boys
School, before joining the Marine Corps. His wife and children lived in
Alameda, CA when he went to Vietnam as a Marine pilot with the First Marine
Air Wing based at Da Nang, South Vietnam. Fanning flew the A6A Intruder, an
all-weather, low-altitude attack plane.

On October 31, 1967, Capt. Fanning and bombardier/navigator Capt. Stephen J.
Kott were sent on a mission over North Vietnam as number two in a flight of
two aircraft on a night electronics support mission. Their radio code name
was "Oatmeal." At about 1:50 a.m., Fanning indicated he was approaching the
target. At 2:02 a.m., the leader observed a bright orange flash in the
vicinity of the target area and in the estimated position of Fanning's
aircraft which he estimated to be about 15 miles east of Hanoi at an
altitude of 100-500 feet.

It was believed that Fanning and Kott could have survived the crash of the
aircraft, and the two were classified Missing in Action. The U.S. believed
that the Vietnamese could account for them.

Several reports surfaced concerning the crash of Fanning's and Kott's plane
in the ensuing years, including one account that Kott was killed in the
crash, but Fanning was captured and taken away by jeep. The accuracy of
these reports is uncertain.

In August, 1984, remains were returned by the Vietnamese proported to be
those of Fanning and Kott. Mrs. Fanning was glad the years of waiting had
finally ended. Her casualty assistance officer assured her that existing
dental records of her husband's matched those of the remains, an important
means of identification. Moreover, he assured her that her husband had not
been wounded in the skull, the focus of a recurring dream that had plagued
her for years. The remains were buried with full military honors in Oklahoma

It was not until 11 months later, in July of 1985, when she was first
allowed access to her husband's forensic file, that Mrs. Fanning learned
that there had been NO skull and NO teeth in the remains proported to be
Hugh Fanning. Mrs. Fanning states " It wasn't just because I discovered I
had buried only 15-20% of a skeleton (no skull and teeth as discussed with
my Casualty Assistance Officer)...the main reason I exhumed the grave was
discovering (that day in July, 85 at the National League of Families
Meeting) pages and pages of live sighting reports on microfiche in my
husband's records. You see, the Marines had consistently maintained there
was no indication at all what might have happened to my husband. NO MENTION
of live sighting reports or their own recommendation that his status be
changed from MIA to POW based on an identification of his photo by North
Vietnam ralliers -- along with accurate accounts of his rank, description,
time of incident, etc. Hugh's plane was the only one that went down on Oct.
31, 1967 (in any branch of the service), so it makes the incident easier to

Mrs. Fanning arranged for the remains to be exhumed and examined
independently. The examiner concluded that the alleged remains of Hugh
Fanning could not have been scientifically identified as his ... or anyone
else's. The official identification of the set of remains as Hugh Fanning
was recinded.

The Kott family has accepted the positive identification of the remains said
to be those of Stephen Jay Kott. He has been buried with full military

Whether Hugh Fanning died on October 31, 1967 in the crash of his plane or
was taken prisoner is not known. It can only be known with certainty when
proof is obtained of his death, or Major Fanning himself is brought home
alive. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fanning says, "My husband may be dead. However, until
positive proof is given to me, I must entertain the possibility that he may
be alive. Regardless of my husband's chances, I do believe that live
Americans still remain in Southeast Asia. I will continue to search for the

Hugh Michael Fanning and Stephen Jay Kott were promoted to the rank of Major
during the period they were maintained missing.

Kathryn returned to Texas to finish her college degree after Hugh's crash.
She moved back to her homwtown of Oklahoma City in 1976 after completing a
second college degree at the University of Arkansas. Although the supposed
remains of Hugh Fanning were sent home, his wedding ring, personal effects,
or crash-site artifacts have never been recovered.

U.S. Veteran News and Report
July 1991
Tom Cartwright


The U.S. Marine Corp, was caught in an indefensible effort to inter at
Arlington National Cemetery on July 15 'unidentifiable' remains, returned by
Hanoi, as those of a Marine officer on the  list of approximately 2,300
Americans still missing in action from the Vietnam War.

The burial was to be made without any notification given to the serviceman's
wife, the primary next of kin in the case.

The disgusting episode was halted due to the efforts of Sen. Bob Smith
(R-NH), who has been a leader in Congress in the POW-MIA movement to account
for America's missing servicemen.

Smith, having learned about the plans for the burial while  Congress was in
recess for the July 4 holiday, notified the Marines on July 12 that there
would not be any burial of remains at Arlington, passing them off as those
of Marine Major Hugh M. Fanning of Oklahoma City,. He became missing on
Oct.31, 1967, when his A-6 aircraft was shot down over North Vietnam.

The Marine Corps brass spent the night of July 12 and early morning hours of
July 13 attempting to get other members of Fanning's family to approve of
the burial.

Smith interceded again  on behalf of Major Fanning's wife, Kathryn, and the
Marine Corps dropped their plans for the burial.

Smith has initiated a detailed investigation of the disgusting episode.


Sources have told the U.S. VETERAN  that an announcement of the July 12
burial ceremony was to be featured during the  annual meeting of the
National League  of POW-MIA Families,  which was held in Washington from
July 11 to 14.

Mrs. Fanning found out from her husband's father, William J. Fanning, Jr.,
that the Marines had attempted to obtain his approval for the burial, which
would include his acceptance of the remains as his son.  He refused but told
Mrs. Fanning that the Marines had not stopped at that  point but had
contacted the  Marine officer's mother in Canada and talked her into
approving the burial and accepting the remains.  The elderly Fannings are

For her assistance in facilitating the burial process Major Fanning's mother
was promised airline tickets  to attend the funeral ceremony.

Actually, such an effort by the Marines is unprecedented, since Kathryn, as
the wife of the MIA, is primary next of kin.

Nevertheless, the effort by the Marines to bury "unidentifiable remains" as
Major Fanning without her knowledge is not the first trick that the Pentagon
has attempted to pull on her, in its endeavors to remove her husband from
the government's list of Americans still POW or MIA in Southeast Asia. Mrs.
Fanning and her three children buried what they were led to believe were the
remains of Major Fanning at Rose Hill , Burial Park in Oklahoma City in
August, 1984.

The  skeletal remains, that they contended were her husband's, are among
those that have been returned by Hanoi over the past several years, a few
sets at a time, although the Pentagon is fully aware that the Vietnamese
have at least 400 sets of remains in a warehouse in Hanoi.

Mrs. Fanning stated that she was told prior to the August, 1984,  burial
ceremony that the remains had been identified, beyond all doubt, since they
included teeth, which had been matched with Major Fanning's dental  records.

Mrs.  Fanning later learned, however, that the remains did not even include
a skull, let alone identifiable teeth. They consisted of 30 bone fragments
from an arm, hand, leg, ankle and foot.


About a year had passed when Mrs. Fanning obtained a court order to have the
remains exhumed and examined by two of America's leading forensic

Dr. Clyde Collins Snow, a consultant forensic anthropologist for the
Oklahoma state medical examiner's office, in a 30 page report on his
exhumation of the skeletal remains concluded that "available osteological
evidence is not sufficient to positively identify the remains as those of
Major Fanning."

Upon examining the "paper work" of the U.S. Army Central Identification
Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, where all POW-MIA remains are identified ,
including those of Major Fanning, Dr. Michael Charney, director of the
Center of Human Identification at Colorado State University, reported:

"It is not possible to positively, individually, make an identification of
the skeletal remains as shown in the reports as that of Major Fanning.  In
none of the submitted reports  is there any statements as to how such an
identification was  made.  Further claims made on Form  DD 892 and another
form (no number) as to the sex, race, age, height, dexterity, musculature
cannot be scientifically supported for the race, age and dexterity or
handedness [right or left handed].  With  race undetermined this leaves the
estimate of height in question. The skull or pertinent portions of such are
required for this determination. This was not on hand. The age indicated on
the report, 25 to 30, would only have been possible to ascertain if the
pubic sym-physical face was present.  It was not. If the scapula body was
intact,  a trans-illumination might have also sufficed assuming the the bone
had not weathered badly in the intervening 17 years, but this  was also
missing. Again, this age might have been made if an osteon analysis of a
cross section of the tibia had been made. There is no indication that such
was done. One can say that these bones are those of a person over the age of
19 or 20."

Dr. Snow, who was one of the forensic anthropologists called upon to
identify the remains of Nazi death camp doctor, Josef Mengele, said the
remains did bear the physical characteristics of Major Fanning along with
about 80 percent  'of all of  the  U.S. pilots who had flown missions in
Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

Following the exhumation and critical reports issued by  Drs. Snow and
Charney, the Marine Corps  issued a memorandum on August 7, 1987, which
acknowledged  that 'On 18 May 1987 ASGRO [Armed Services Graves Registration
Office] convened a board which reviewed all findings relating to the
identification of Major Fanning's remains and determined that  insufficient
evidence existed to support the original identification' and that further
evaluation should be conducted by the Central Identification Laboratories,

"Since then, I guess you can say they have been bullying me  to try to get
me to accept the remains," Mrs. Fanning reportedly told a Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Fanning returned the remains to the Marines  in July, 1987, in a cool
ceremony held at Colorado State University.

Currently, the Pentagon has ordered a DNA examination of the skeletal
remains,which will compare their DNA characteristics with those of Maj.
Fanning's children.

Wed Dec 10 1997
From: Joe Schlatter 
Subject: Fanning, Hugh, MAJ, USMC

There is a glaring omission in your pow info page regarding Major Hugh

The remains that had been identified as Fanning and exhumed later at his
wife's request were subjected to mitochondrial DNA testing.  The DNA
extracted from those remains matched precisely with DNA from MAJ
Fanning's mother and sister.  The remains are those of Major Fanning.

Contact the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab for confirmation.

NVVC Veteran Journal
July-August 1994


The Remains Game, Continued

Kathryn Fanning ... sought to have (her husband's) remains subjected to a
DNA test in 1992 - which ... was finally ordered by the Marine Corps. The
tests were publicly declared to be positive, Fanning said, but notes to the
file on intenal documents indicate inconclusive results.

Each of the bones that were eventually returned to Fanning, she said, had
been completely drilled out to remove any marrow which she might use for an
independent DNA test. (Fort Worth StarTelegram, Jan. 9, 1994, Tommy Denton