McDONALD, JOSEPH WILLIAM
Name: Joseph William McDonald
Rank/Branch: 02/U.S. Marine Corps
Unit: VMA 224, Detachment C
Date of Birth: 17 December 1946
Home City of Record: Wappinger Falls NY
Date of Loss: 03 May 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 174859N 1072957E (YE649715)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel in Incident: David B. Williams (remains returned)
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, 2020.
REMARKS: POSSIBLY CAPTURED
SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude,
carrier-based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and
electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support,
all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night
interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as
DIANE (Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small
precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located
and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were
credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war,
including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong
by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most
talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
On May 3, 1972, an A6A flown by 1Lt. Joseph W. McDonald was launched on a
mission over North Vietnam. Flying as "guy in back" for McDonald was Capt.
David B. Williams. At a point on the coast of North Vietnam, near the city
of Ron in Quang Binh Province, their aircraft was shot down. Both men were
placed in the category of Missing In Action.
The Defense Intelligence Agency further clarified McDonald's and Williams'
categories with an "enemy knowledge" qualifier. Both men received ratings of
Category 3, which indicates "doubtful knowledge" and includes personnel
whose loss incident is such that it is doubtful that the enemy wound have
knowledge of the specific individuals (e.g. aircrews lost over water or
Even though both men were classified Missing in Action, Defense Department
notes indicate some likelihood that McDonald, at least, was captured. There
are no such notations relating to Williams. The Vietnamese denied any
knowledge of either crewman.
In late October, 1989, it was announced that remains returned to the U.S. by
the Vietnamese had been identified as being those of David B. Williams. No
word of McDonald has been publicly announced.
Since these men disappeared in May 1972, the U.S. has received nearly 10,000
reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many officials who
have reviewed these reports have reluctantly concluded there are still
hundreds of Americans alive in Southeast Asia, held captive by our long-ago
Whether Joseph W. McDonald survived the crash of his aircraft to be captured
is not known. What is certain, however, is that the Vietnamese should be
able to provide answers as to his fate. It's time we got those answers, and
time we brought all living American prisoners home.