LUNA, DONALD ALFRED
Name: Donald Alfred Luna
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 17 April 1938
Home City of Record: Houston TX
Date of Loss: 01 February 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163200N 1060500E (XD155280)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1990 with the assistance of
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 2020.
SYNOPSIS: All tactical strike aircraft operating in Southeast Asia had to be
under the control of a Forward Air Control (FAC), who was intimately familiar
with the locale, the populous, and the tactical situation. The FAC would find
the target, order up U.S. fighter/bombers from an airborne command and control
center or ground based station, mark the target accurately with white phosphorus
(Willy Pete) rockets, and control the operation throughout the time the planes
remained on station. After the fighters had departed, the FAC stayed over the
target to make a bomb damage assessment (BDA).
The FAC also had to ensure that there were no attacks on civilians, a complex
problem in a war where there were no front lines and any hamlet could suddenly
become part of the combat zone. A FAC needed a fighter pilot's mentality, but
but was obliged to fly slow and low in such unarmed and vulnerable aircraft as
the Cessna O1 Bird Dog, and the Cessna O2.
Capt. Donald A. Luna was the pilot of a Cessna O2A on an operational mission
near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. At a point about 10 miles southeast of that city
in a pocket of Laos which intrudes on the South Vietnam border, Luna's aircraft
was shot down. Luna was declared Missing in Action.
Records on American military personnel were maintained in various government
agencies. Raw intelligence data from Southeast Asia freqently first found its
way into the files of the organization which came to be known as Joint Casualty
Resolution Center (JCRC). Many analysts believed JCRC records were the most
complete and authoritative, since they contained largely raw data without
benefit of analytical "muddling".
In November 1973, JCRC received a cable from Defense Intelligence Agency which
was copied to various high stations, including CIA, the Secretary of State and
the White House. The cable stated JCRC should "take necessary action to delete
any references pertaining to PW [Prisoner of War] status and place members in a
new MIA code" the files of Donald A. Luna and several others. Whether JCRC had
intelligence that indicated Donald Luna had been captured is unknown.
Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports
relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in
Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having
examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that
many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy.
Whether Luna survived the crash of his aircraft to be captured by the enemy is
certain not known. It is not known if he might be among those thought to be
still alive today. What is certain, however, is that as long as even one
American remains alive, held against his will, we owe him our very best efforts
to bring him to freedom.