Thomas Wayne Dugan

United States Air Force
31 May 1933 - 20 July 1978
Reading, PA
Panel 36W Line 014


B-57 Canberra

USAF Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas Wayne Dugan

8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, Phan Rang AB Thailand

Tom Dugan and Fran McGouldrick
are two men that America has forgotten about,
but I haven't ...

The Mission

On 13 December 1968 a C-123K PROVIDER of the 606th Special Operations Squadron launched from Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand, on a night FAC mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail area. The low-and-slow C-123K's mission was to obtain visual or infrared sightings of traffic along the Trail and to act as a controller for bombers - in this case, B-57 CANBERRA bombers from the 8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, Phan Rang AB, SVN.

Weather conditions along the Trail were good - clear with a half moon, ground fog, no wind and no cloud ceiling. At 0300 hours, as a B-57 was executing an attack against ground targets, the B-57 collided with the upper surface of the circling C-123K. Both aircraft - and nine aircrewmen - went down.

Only one - 1st Lt Thomas M. Turner from the C-123 - was rescued. The others simply disappeared into the Laotian jungles about 30 miles southwest of the Ban Kari Pass. A ground search was impossible due to total enemy control of the area, but airborne search-and-rescue operations continued until the formal SAR effort was terminated on 15 December. At that point, the crewmen and their status were as follow:

  • 606th SOS, C-123K call sign CANDLESTICK 44
    • 1st Lt Thomas M. Turner, pilot, rescued;
    • 1st Lt Joseph P. Fanning, co-pilot, MIA;
    • 1st Lt John S. Albright, II, navigator, MIA;
    • 1st Lt Morgan J. Donahue, navigator, MIA;
    • Then-SSgt Douglas V. Dailey, flight engineer, MIA;
    • TSgt Fred L. Clarke, loadmaster, MIA; and
    • SSgt Samuel F. Walker, Jr., loadmaster, MIA.
  • 8th Tactical Bomber Squadron, B-57B call sign YELLOWBIRD 72
None of the men returned with other POWs in February 1973, nor did any of the released POWs have knowledge of the CANDLESTICK or YELLOWBIRD crewmen. As time passed, the Secretary of the Air Force approved Presumptive Findings of Death for the eight missing crewmen - including Major Thomas W. Dugan (20 July 1978).

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend,
25 Jul 2002

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 07/26/2002