On 2 December 1972, U.S. Air Force Captain Anthony C. Shine was piloting his A-7D fighter/bomber on a reconnaissance and escort mission near Barthelemy Pass in North Vietnam. The passes through the mountains that border the Lao/Vietnamese borders were heavily concentrated with enemy missile and Anti-Aircraft Artillery sites, as well as NVA logistics facilities, so they were frequent bombing targets. Of the many Americans lost near these passes, few returned. Search was difficult not only because the enemy was present, but also because the terrain is incredibly rugged.
Shine radioed his wingman and said he was descending below cloud cover for a closer look at their target area, a 10-mile stretch of road called Highway 7. After ten minutes, the wingman tried to radio Shine; but there was no answer. Airborne Command and Control directed an extensive three-day airborne search, without success. Rescue teams reported a fire on the ground, but no aircraft wreckage. Tony Shine was listed as Missing in Action.
Almost 24 years later, the serenity of Arlington National Cemetery was broken by the sharp report of rifle volleys followed by the haunting notes of ‘Taps.' Lieutenant Colonel Anthony C. Shine had come home to rest in honored glory. (During the period he was maintained as Missing in Action, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.)
In the peaceful skies above, four F-15 fighter aircraft executed the missing man formation while the Air Force Honor Guard folded the American flag over Shine's casket.
The United States and Prisoner of War / Missing in Action flags rustled in the crisp fall breeze as Lt. General Lloyd W. Newton, Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, presented the U.S. flag to Shine's wife, Bonnie, and his mother, Helen Shine. Family members and friends looked on as this hero was finally laid to rest.
Whether Tony Shine initially survived the crash of his aircraft in December 1972 will never be known. He was declared dead on 8 January 1980. Shine's remains were repatriated 6 June 1995, and on 2 August 1996, the Armed Forces Identification Review Board approved the identification of the remains as those of Anthony C. Shine.
George and Helen Shine raised their children to love their country. George retired as a Colonel after serving as an aide to General Omar Bradley in WWII and in the Army Air Corps during the Korean War. All four of their children entered the military and served in Vietnam; only two returned alive. Their daughter, Sarah (Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army – Retired) was in the Nurse Corps; Anthony served in the Air Force; and Alexander and Jonathan served in the Army.
While Tony Shine was serving his first term in Vietnam in 1970, his youngest brother, Jonathan, an Army 1st Lieutenant fresh out of the U.S. Military Academy, was killed in action at Cu Chi, Vietnam (posthumously awarded the Silver Star). Tony escorted Jonathan's body home for burial at West Point and returned to his job in Vietnam. His brother, Alexander (Colonel, U.S. Army – Retired), was seriously wounded during his Vietnam service and awarded the Silver Star. Throughout all this, George and Helen kept the faith. The Shine family has served faithfully and sacrificed much for our country's freedom. The Shine family has remained active in POW-MIA issues; Tony's daughter, Colleen, served for two years as the Director of Public Relations for the National League of POW / MIA Families. On 28 June 1995, Colleen testified before the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
In 1981, Bonnie Shine established an award in honor of her husband and to bring attention to those who are POWs and MIA. The Lt. Col. Anthony Shine Fighter Pilot Award is given annually to a pilot who is both adept at flying a fighter jet and heavily involved in the local community. The award is generally presented around POW / MIA Day, which is 17 September.
Lt. Col. Anthony Cameron Shine's name can be found on Panel 01W - Line 93 of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.
Bio compiled by Charles A. Lewis.
Bomette Margo Carney Shine