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Joseph P. Dunn



In Memory of Joseph P. Dunn


Joseph P. Dunn


Joseph P. Dunn


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  • Name: Joseph Patrick Dunn
  • Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
  • Unit: Attack Squadron 25, USS CORAL SEA
  • Date of Birth: 17 September 1942 (Boston MA)
  • Home City of Record: Hull MA
  • Date of Loss: 14 February 1968
  • Country of Loss: China
  • Loss Coordinates: 185500N 1103800E (DL614917)
  • Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
  • Category: 3
  • Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1H
  • Other Personnel in Incident: (None Missing)


Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 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. NETWORK.


SYNOPSIS: LTJG Joseph P. Dunn joined the Navy in 1964. He received orders for Vietnam in July 1967, where he was assigned to Attack Squadron 25 onboard the USS CORAL SEA. On February 14, 1968, Dunn launched in his A1H Skyraider attack aircraft from Cubi Point Naval Air Station, Republic of the Philippines, to relieve another aircraft from his squadron. The flight was a ferry flight, returning a repaired A1 aircraft to the USS CORAL SEA, accompanied by a second unarmed radar plane.


During the flight to the aircraft carrier on station in the Gulf of Tonkin, both Dunn and his wingman drifted north of their proposed flight route and wound up off the east coast of Hainan Island, China. The Chinese, having tracked the aircraft on radar, sent MiG 17 aircraft to turn the intruders away. Fire from one of them struck Dunn's aircraft.
The pilot of the second plane, along with three other crewmen, saw Dunn descend with a fully opened parachute and heard the manual UHF emergency beeper sound for two to three minutes, but then they were forced evade the attacking MiG aircraft and flew toward the security of South Vietnam. The wingman immediately reported the shootdown and U.S. aircraft responded within minutes of the call. Unfortunately, due to the wingman's perception that he was off the coast of North Vietnam and not China, the U.S. aircraft searched the wrong area for hours. Upon his landing in South Vietnam, the mistake was discovered and other aircraft were correctly deployed, but without success.
Eight hours after the shootdown, an electronic surveillance plane picked up a beeper signal for 20 minutes from the vicinity of Hainan Island. It is believed that Dunn would take approximately 8 hours to reach the island in his emergency life raft. There were a number of junks in the region which might have picked him up. Had he drowned, his body would have reached the island and probably have been seen by villagers.
The Chinese reported the shootdown in their radio broadcasts. Numerous newspapers related the incident, and U.S. State Department efforts were initiated to try to get more information. Despite the evidence that Dunn could have been captured, the Chinese will say nothing about his fate. American envoys to China have raised the question of Dunn's fate to no avail.
Dunn's wife and son have been very active since he disappeared in the effort to secure information on the men still missing in Indochina. They know that Joe Dunn would want them to press for answers. Joe himself was very concerned about friends who had been shot down, and for the crew of the ill-fated Pueblo illegallly siezed by North Korea in 1968. They continually work to remind the American public and the government of the United States that the fate of those nearly 2500 Americans remains unresolved and is of utmost importance.
Joseph P. Dunn was promoted to the rank of Commander during the period he was maintained missing.
Added on October 1, 1998 In 1997, Monika Jensen-Stevensen wrote "SPITE HOUSE" and in it notes she spoke to Maureen Dunn. The author writes "Ms. Dunn also obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that VERIFY that the decision to ABANDON her husband, and other pilots who were shot down near Hainan Island, were made at the highest levels....high-level group had made the decison to abort her husband's rescue in the same way.....[as the] abandoning of the pilot in October of the same year. She asked McNamara for an apology....He told her, "I'm not just sorry, I'm horrified..."

[see page 199-200 of Spite House]
The Search for Canasta 404: Love, Loss, and the POW/MIA Movement,  a new
book by Melissa B. Robinson and Maureen Dunn.
Information about The Search for Canasta 404 (hardback at $24.95) is
available at
The Search for Canasta 404: Love, Loss, and the POW/MIA Movement
The true story of a personal tragedy that helped spark the POW/MIA movement
The whirlwind romance of Joe and Maureen Dunn began in the spring of 1963.
Each the youngest child of a working-class Irish Boston family, they quickly
fell in love and were married soon after they met. Joe subsequently enlisted
in the Navy, attended flight school, and volunteered for Vietnam. On
Valentine's Day 1968--eleven days after his first tour of duty was
extended--Joe was ferrying an unarmed plane, call sign "Canasta 404," when
he drifted into Chinese airspace and was shot down.
That tragedy helped to ignite one of the most important social movements of
recent decades. Eyewitness accounts suggested Joe might have survived the
initial attack, but Maureen, determined to prove her husband was still
alive, met with resistance rather than answers from a stonewalling U.S.
government. In response, she organized the "Where is Lt. Joe Dunn?"
committee, one of the first POW/MIA activist organizations in the country.
Part love story, part inside account of the growth of a movement, The Search
for Canasta 404 is a deeply personal narrative of private tragedy and public
September 25, 2006
A missing pilot and lasting love
HYANNIS - Behind the bar at The Island Merchant is a photograph of Navy Lt.
Joseph P. Dunn, of Hull, whose unarmed plane was shot down off the coast of
China on Feb. 14, 1968.....
Gwenn Friss can be reached at


40 years of questions for widow of pilot who was a Hull native

Wicked Local Hull - Quincy,MA,USA

- It was 40 years ago today when a deliveryman showed up at Maureen Dunn's
Oak Street home in Randolph with a bouquet of red roses from her Navy pilot
husband, Hull native Joseph Dunn...

More information can be found on the above link with pictures.



Thanks to Ron Fleischer.


"All Biographical and loss information on POWs provided by Operation Just Cause have been supplied by Chuck and Mary Schantag of POWNET. Please check with POWNET regularly for updates."

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