GALLAGHER, DONALD LOUIS
Name: Donald Louis Gallagher
Rank/Branch: E7/US Navy
Unit: Patrol Squadron 26, U Tapao Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth: 02 March 1938
Home City of Record: Sheboygan WI
Date of Loss: 06 February 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 093050N 1040730E (VR040520)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald F. Burnett; Armando Chapa, Jr.; William F.
Farris; Roy A. Huss; Thomas P. Jones; Homer E. McKay; James C. Newman, Jr.;
Melvin C. Thompson; Lynn M. Travis (all missing)
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following:
Homecoming II Project 01 December 1989;raw data from U.S. Government
agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources,
interviews and CACCF = Combined Action Combat Casualty File.
Updated 2003 - see below for source. 2020
SYNOPSIS: At 0900 hours on February 5, 1968, a P3 "Orion" aircraft assigned to
Patrol Squadron 26 at U Tapao Airbase, Thailand, left on a "Market Time"
mission over the Gulf of Thailand (Gulf of Siam). They were scheduled to return
to their base at about 0900 hours the following morning.
The crew on board the aircraft included Lt. Thomas P. Jones; LtJg. Lynn M.
Travis; LtJg. Roy A. Huss; AXCS Donald F. Burnett; AX3 Armando
Chapa Jr.; AX3 William F. Farris (AX designates Antisubmarine warfare
technicians and related duties); AOC Donald L. Gallagher; AMH2 Homer E. McKay;
ADR1 James C. Newman Jr.; AE1 Melvin C. Thompson (A designates in many cases,
aviation personnel, i.e. AE1 is Aviation Electrician's Mate First Class).
As antisubmarine warfare was all but unknown in Vietnam, there were a variety
of duties handled by those trained in antisubmarine warfare. As marking
submarines, and/or destroying them involved the use of marking buoys,
electronic "ears" and other technical equipment suited for target marking,
antisubmarine teams were frequently used for search missions. They also
sometimes assisted in attacks on small enemy water craft.
Shortly after midnight on February 6, the Orion reported a surface contact.
Some two hours later it reported another contact somewhat further east. The
last report received from the Orion was after 0300 hours. No subsequent
communication was received.
An emergency communication alert for the aircraft was declared shortly after
daybreak and a full search and rescue (SAR) was declared. In the late
afternoon of February 6, wreckage and debris were sighted and identified.
On February 7 search and rescue operations were terminated at sundown. Salvage
operations were conducted from February 11 through March 21. The investigating
officer concluded that the Orion had impacted with the water, and that the
aircraft had been completely destroyed, and that all of the crewmembers had
The Orion went down about 50 miles off the shores of South Vietnam's An Xuyen
Province in the Gulf of Thailand. Presumably, all the crew aboard are "buried"
at sea - an honorable burial for a naval man. This crew is listed with honor
among the missing because no remains were ever found.
For the crew of the Orion, death seems a certainty. For hundreds of others,
however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly
10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain
knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not
released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and
still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive.
Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear
without a trace.
The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those
who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the
general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for
at the end of a war.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us?
What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring
these men home from Southeast Asia?