Name: Kurt Casey McDonald
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 19 August 1934 (Salt Lake City UT)
Home City of Record: Bellevue WA
Loss Date: 31 December 1964
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 160631N 1075320E (ZC090830)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1F
Refno: 0051

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: George B. Mundis (on another O1, not missing);
Edward R. Dodge (missing)


SYNOPSIS: SFC Edward Dodge was based at Da Nang with Detachment C-1 of the
5th Special Forces Group. On December 31, 1964, Dodge served as observer on
an O1F aircraft flown by U.S. Air Force Capt. Kurt C. McDonald. Dodge and
McDonald were one of two O1's launched that day on similar flight paths. The
other aircraft was flown by WO1 George B. Mundis.

The two aircraft took off at about 0815 hours in marginal weather
conditions. Their flight would take them to Camp A Shau, a Special Forces
camp in the lower end of the A Shau Valley garrisoned by Detachment A-102.
McDonald's flight was intended for a delivery to the camp.

Camp A Shau was a triangular shaped camp located in triple canopy jungle,
and surrounded by elephant grass twice as high as a man. In just over a year
from the day Dodge and McDonald were due to fly over the camp, it would be
overrun by the enemy.

Mundis and McDonald flew together until they reached Hill 3350, whereupon
both aircraft made a 180 degree turn. WO1 Mundis lost sight of McDonald's
plane, which entered some bad weather, with clouds completely obscuring the
ridge to the north and extending down to make a ragged roof above the triple
canopy jungle. Mundis never saw the aircraft again.

Although returned POWs did not see Dodge or McDonald in captivity, one
source selected the photographs of both men as those who were held captive
by the communists in Southeast Asia.

Studies of declassified documents indicate that there was more than one POW
prison "system" in place during the Vietnam war, and that POWs tended to be
moved within one "system" with the same prisoners. It appears possible that
a number of prisoners were held without the knowledge of other prisoners.

Refugees fleeing Southeast Asia have come with reports of Americans still
held in captivity. There are many such reports that withstand the closest
scrutiny the U.S. Government can give, yet official policy admits only to
the "possibility" that Americans remain as captives in Southeast Asia.

Until serious negotiations begin on Americans held in Southeast Asia, the
families of nearly 2500 Americans will wonder, "Where are they?"




Return to Service Member Profiles

On December 31, 1964, an O-1F Bird Dog (tail number 2823) carrying two crew members disappeared while en route from Da Nang to the A Shau Valley, while conducting a visual reconnaissance mission along the border with Laos. The radar control tower at Da Nang last made radio contact with the aircraft minutes after taking off at 0815 hours. Shortly after, the pilot of another O-1F aircraft last made visual contact with Tail # 57-2823 as it turned back in the direction of Da Nang apparently due to bad weather. The Bird Dog failed to arrive at Da Nang, or any friendly airbase in the region. Extensive aerial search efforts were conducted over seven days and 150,000 reward leaflets were dropped, but no trace of the aircraft or crew was found.

Captain Kurt Casey McDonald entered the U.S. Air Force from Washington and was a member of Advance Team 2, 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron, that was TDY from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, to the 2nd Air Division, Da Nang Airbase, Republic of Vietnam. He was the pilot of the O-1F aircraft when it disappeared, and was lost with the aircraft. He remains unaccounted-for. After the incident, the Air Force promoted Capt McDonald to the rank of Colonel (Col). Today, Colonel McDonald 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.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

Service member profile discrepancy? Please help us ensure the accuracy of each profile by submitting documentation about a service member profile.