Name: Donald Earl Thompson
Rank/Branch: Lieutenant Commander /US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 213
USS Kitty Hawk                                     

Date of Birth: 17 February 1940 
Home of Record: Wellsville, NY
Date of Loss: 04 February 1967 
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 200500N 1061500E (XH307200)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B "Phantom II"
Other Personnel in Incident: Allan P. Collamore, Jr. (missing)

REMARKS:  DEAD/CS 317 09012 73

SYNOPSIS:   The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. 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. It 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" planes around.

On 4 February 1967, then Lt. Donald E. Thompson, pilot, and Lt. Allan P. Collamore, Radar Intercept Officer, launched from the deck of the USS Kitty Hawk in an F4B as the #2 aircraft in a flight of 2, on a night armed reconnaissance mission along the coast of North Vietnam. Lt. Thompson was briefed to fly in a six to seven mile radar trail behind the lead aircraft. The flight leader crossed the beach at Van Lan Trai, approximately 28 miles northeast of Thanh Hoa and 68 miles southeast of Hanoi. Immediately upon crossing into North Vietnam, Lead executed a level flare dropping run to illuminate an enemy convoy traveling along the road below.

At 2125 hours, and approximately one minute after the flare drop, the flight leader observed a large explosion on the ground behind him. He immediately initiated a 180 degree turn while attempting to contact his wingman, but without success. When he reached the location of the explosion, Lead observed a large fire burning intensely on the ground as well as truck headlights and mussel flashes from enemy small arms fire. Lead also saw a red flare which he believed was ignited by either Donald Thompson or Allan Collamore.

Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts were initiated at first light and continued until nightfall, then were resumed again the following morning. When no trace of the downed aircrew could be detected either electronically or visually, all formal SAR activity was terminated. Both Donald Thompson and Allan Collamore were immediately listed Missing in Action.

In September 1974 sketchy intelligence information was received by the US Government indicating that an American jet was downed is this general location and timeframe with both pilots perishing in the crash and their bodies being buried near the crash site by the North Vietnamese. However, no confirmation that this report correlated to this aircraft loss or that its aircrew actually died in the crash has ever been provided by the Vietnamese.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Fighter pilots in Vietnam were call upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.