Thomas Earl Dunlop – Commander, United States Navy

Date Icon Publish Date


Date of Birth: 7/10/1930
Date of Casualty: 4/6/1972
Branch of Service: NAVY
Rank: CDR
Casualty Country: NORTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: NZ
Status: MIA

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

 Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131 Public contact:
No. 270-05

Missing in Action Serviceman Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. Navy pilot, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Navy Commander Thomas E. Dunlop of Neptune Beach, Florida, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on March 21, 2005.

On April 6, 1972, Dunlop took off in his A-7E Corsair II from the USS Coral Sea on a bombing mission of enemy targets in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. While over the target area, his aircraft was struck by an enemy surface-to-air missile and as his wingman watched, Dunlop’s aircraft exploded in a fireball and crashed.  No emergency beeper signals were received from the area of his crash.

In April 1993, joint U.S. and Vietnamese teams interviewed five residents of Quang Binh Province about the crash, but the information did not further the investigation.

In 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998, U.S. and Vietnamese investigators interviewed at least 13 other people in the province without results.  Meanwhile, U.S. survey teams visited potential crash sites in 1995, 1998 and twice in 2002.  Again, no useful information was obtained.

Then in 2003 and again in 2004, specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) excavated a crash site where they found aircraft debris, personal effects and human remains later identified by JPAC scientists as those of Dunlop.

Of the 88,000 Americans missing in action from all conflicts, 1,836 are from the Vietnam War with 1,399 of those within the country of Vietnam.  Another 747 Americans have been accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans from all conflicts, visit the DPMO Web site at or call 703-699-1169.

22 March 2005:

In a March 16 report about the burial of a missing pilot, it was reported that an empty casket was being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The story should have noted that some bone fragments of the pilot, Commander Thomas Earl Dunlop, were found and will be buried in the casket, according to Troy Kitch, deputy director of public affairs for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii

Funeral planned for pilot missing since 1972
Man declared dead after plane wreckage, clothing found in Vietnam
Wednesday, March 16, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – About two dozen relatives will pay their last respects next week to a Navy pilot, shot down over Vietnam in 1972, who was recently declared dead although no body was ever found.

An empty casket will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors for Cmdr. Thomas Earl Dunlop. Dunlop's A-7E Corsair II was shot down over a remote area of Vietnam.

An official report concluded that a crash site excavated by a team of investigators definitely contained the wreckage of the plane Dunlop was flying, said his sister, Gail Hull-Ryde of Jacksonville, Florida. He was the only pilot in an A-7E Corsair II in the area at the time the plane was shot down in April 1972.

No body was found but he was declared dead after remnants of his clothing were identified.

“We're happy there is this final closure, after so many years of nothing,” Hull-Ryde said.

Three of Dunlop's four children will attend Monday's ceremony.

The Pentagon's POW-MIA Joint Accounting Command estimates 1,800 men are still missing in Vietnam.




  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/10/1930
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/07/1973


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