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
Joseph P. Dunn was promoted to the rank of Commander during the period he was maintained
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]