MIDNIGHT, FRANCIS BARNES
Name: Francis Barnes Midnight
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 11 July 1939
Home City of Record: Gary IN
Date of Loss: 23 August 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171800N 1063600E (XE712139)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 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.
SYNOPSIS: The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served
a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
When Frank B. Midnight graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1964, he went
on to pilot training at Webb Air Force Base in Texas. It was not long before
he was assigned to Vietnam as an F4 pilot.
On August 23, 1967, 1LT Midnight was assigned a combat mission over North
Vietnam. He and his back-seater (name unknown) were about 5 miles southwest
of the city of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province when their aircraft was hit
by enemy fire and crashed.
The proscribed ejection procedure in the F4 is for the rear-seater to eject
first, followed by the pilot of the aircraft. Thus, it is not uncommon for
the two crewmembers to be separated by considerable distances. Apparently,
as no second F4 crewmember is missing in this locality on this date, the
rear-seater on Midnight's aircraft was rescued. Midnight was not. He was
classified Missing in Action.
The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded Midnight's classification
to include an enemy knowledge ranking of 2. Category 2 indicates "suspect
knowledge" and includes personnel who may have been involved in loss
incidents with individuals reported in Category 1 (confirmed knowledge), or
who were lost in areas or under conditions that they may reasonably be
expected to be known by the enemy; who were connected with an incident which
was discussed but not identified by names in enemy news media; or identified
(by elimination, but not 100% positively) through analysis of all-source
When the general prisoner release occurred in 1973, the U.S. received some
surprises. Some men whom observers were certain had perished with their
planes had survived to be released. Midnight's family knew the Vietnamese
could probably tell them what happened to him. There was no proof they died.
The biggest surprise is the nearly 10,000 reports received since the end of
the war concerning U.S. military personnel prisoner, missing, or unaccounted
for in Southeast Asia. The evidence mounts that Americans are still being
held captive.One of them could be Francis B. Midnight. It's time we brought
our men home.