Name: Francis James Feneley
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: (unknown) Cam Ranh Bay
Date of Birth: 30 January 1930
Home City of Record: Curtis MI
Date of Loss: 11 May 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 174257N 1063457E (XE678593)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D
Refno: 0337
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)

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.


SYNOPSIS: Captain Francis Feneley was returning from what was to have been
his last mission in Vietnam when he was shot down in the Gulf of Tonkin
north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

In his last letter home, dated two days before the apparent crash, he told
his mother he expected to be home for her birthday on May 12. Feneley also
wrote that he regretted that his squadron was not being allowed to bomb key
targets he felt would have hastened the end of the war. Feneley was based at
Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam, a huge U.S. military installation northeast
of Saigon that is now used by the Soviet Navy as a long-sought warm water
port to base its fleet. U.S. Air Force records do not list his unit of
assignment. His military occupational specialty (MOS) is classified.

The career Air Force pilot was shot down only two months before North
Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Tonkin
Gulf. The U.S. retaliated with what was claimed at the time to be the first
aircraft bombing of North Vietnam.

Feneley's F105D was part of a Rolling Thunder mission on May 11, 1966. As he
was returning from the mission, and was on the coast of North Vietnam, over
Quang Binh Province, approximately halfway between the cities of Dong Hoa
and Quang Khe, Feneley's aircraft was struck by hostile fire and immediately
had a flame out. The aircraft was observed to impact in water.

By May 27, the Air Force had accumulated what they felt was sufficient
evidence that Feneley was killed at the time of the crash of his aircraft,
that they classified him Presumed Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered. No
trace of him was ever found.

Francis Feneley was not among 591 American prisoners released at the end of
American involvement in the Vietnam war. Military experts expressed their
dismay that "hundreds" who were expected to be released were not.

Since that time, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities
believe there are large numbers of them alive in captivity.

Francis Feneley's family has not given up the quest to discover exactly what
happened to him on May 11, 1966. His mother is convinced that he may some
day come home alive. She refused the Air Force's offer of a memorial service
saying she will not have services for her son until she knows he is dead and
has his body. Like the majority of POW/MIA family members, she is prepared
for the worst, hopeful for the best. She wants the truth, and wants her son





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Captain Francis James Feneley entered the U.S. Air Force from Michigan and served in the 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. On May 11, 1966, he took off in a single-seat F-105D Thunderchief (tail number 62-4293) as the first of two aircraft on a combat mission over enemy targets in North Vietnam. While making a second strafing pass over the target, Capt Feneley reported that his aircraft had been hit and that he had a flameout. He began to steer his aircraft out to sea and managed to restart his engine, at which point his wingman noticed a fire aboard Capt Feneley's aircraft. The Thunderchief began to lose altitude and airspeed, and when Capt Feneley was over water his wingman observed two objects separate from his aircraft before it crashed and sank into the water near (GC) 48Q XE 678 593. No open parachutes were observed, and no radio or rescue beeper signals were received following the crash. Search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful in locating Capt Feneley, and he remains unaccounted for. Following the incident, the Air Force promoted Capt Feneley to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Feneley 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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