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Lieut David Thomas Dinan, III

Lieut David Thomas Dinan, III

Birth
Death 17 Mar 1969 (aged 25)
Laos
Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Memorial ID 92019166 · View Source
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First Lieutenant Dinan was living in Nutley, NJ when he entered the service and was a member of the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand.

On March 17, 1969, he was flying in a Thunderchief Fighter (F-105D) on a combat mission over Laos, when his aircraft was hit by hostile fire and crashed. He tried to parachute but radio contact was lost. His remains were never recovered.

He's honored on Panel 29W, Row 62.

The following is from contributor #47606042:

David Thomas Dinan III
Memorial Mass This Saturday
For Lieutenant David Dinan III

(March 27, 1969) Lt. David Dinan III, 25, of Hawthorne Avenue, was killed March 17, in Laos, Southeast Asia, after he was forced to bail out of a F-105 jet that had been hit by ground fire.

Dinan was a pilot from the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Airbase, Thailand.

During the combat mission, Dinan's aircraft was hit by enemy fire and he ejected. His parachute was shredded when it hit trees, however, and he sustained what were believed to be fatal injuries from falling through the trees and down an embankment. Dinan was declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

Dinan is among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot over North Vietnam on July 14, 1968.

On that date, Lt. Dinan was a member of a flight diverted from a preplanned mission to support the rescue of a fellow pilot downed in a fiercely defended area of North Vietnam.

In a constant barrage of deadly anti-aircraft fire, Lt. Dinan, without thought of his own personal safety, made repeated passes in close proximity to the survivor, successfully silencing the fire and halting the advance of hostile ground forces attempting to capture the downed airman.

The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Lt. Dinan reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Lt. Dinan was awarded the Air Medal (Eighth and Ninth Oak Leaf Cluster) for meritorious achievement from Nov. 16, 1968 to Jan. 8, 1969.

Lt. Dinan was awarded the Air Medal (Tenth Oak Leaf Cluster) for meritorious achievement from Jan. 9 to Feb. 23, 1969.

The officer earned his commission in an ROTC program at Stevens Institute of Technology where he majored in physics. He joined the Air Force in 1966.

After attending St. Mary's grammar school, where he was in the Drum and Bugle Corps. and participated in Little League baseball, he entered Seton Hall Prep School. While at Seton Hall, he participated on the school debating team, wrote for the school newspaper, and found time to letter in track.

Thanks to contributor # 47205242 for the following:

Forty-five years ago Leland Sorensen was the last American to see U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. David T. Dinan's body. One week ago Sorensen, a maroon beret para-rescue jumper during the Vietnam War, held Dinan's military ID in his hands.
Dinan's ID was found on the slope of a heavily forested hillside on the last hour of the last day that Sorensen of Aberdeen was in Laos to help a mission to find Dinan's remains.
“I still can't get over the fact the ID card was setting on top of the ground,” Sorensen said. “It still amazes me.”
The discovery was a happy ending to a long search for a needle in a haystack that Sorensen had lost hope would succeed. Sorensen's successful war rescue efforts in 1968-69 earned him the Silver Star and four Distinguished Flying Crosses, but what happened back in the jungles of Laos March 14 of this year means more.
“Both of us think it's a miracle,” said Sorensen's wife, Laura. “A lot of people were praying for success.”
Leland agrees that something special was at work. In his own words, Sorensen wrote down his thoughts on the long flight home from Southeast Asia.
“The ID card was just a symbol marking the hillside where I was 45 years ago and where a fellow airman lost his life,” Sorensen wrote in his journal. “It has been his final resting place for the past 45 years and now it is an opportunity to repatriate his remains and bring another hero home.”
Sorensen's reflections continued: “It was a very hallowed event in which I was able to participate and I thank God for that.”
A surprise email from the Army's Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office last December asked Sorensen to help in the search because he was the last person to see Dinan. A retired biologist with the University of Idaho Research and Extension Center in Aberdeen, Sorensen had put the Vietnam War behind him decades ago. But Sorensen's assistance was requested and he decided to help.
After Dinan's F-105 fighter jet crashed in Laos, the then 21-year-old Air Force para-rescue jumper or PJ had been lowered to the ground to find Lt. Dinan and he had discovered the pilot's body tangled in parachute cords and wedged in heavy brush near a tree. Because of the threat of an enemy ambush, Sorensen was lifted out of the jungle and back aboard his “Jolly Green Giant” HH-53 Sikorsky helicopter before he could recover Dinan's body.
For three days this month Sorensen again found himself aboard a helicopter hovering over the same area of Laos. This time he was a part of two different search teams looking for the remains of Dinan and his F-105.
Sorensen had flown from Idaho Falls to Hawaii then on to Japan before landing in Laos. A base camp for the search operation had been established in Xinghkhouang Province in the northeast section of Laos and home to the Plain of Jars — one of the most heavily bombarded areas during the Vietnam War. It was also a dangerous area for F-105 pilots to conduct aerial assaults because of the steep hills and low visibility. Sorensen said pilots would sweep in for a bombing run and then pull up only to run into a mountainside. In the case of Lt. Dinan, his jet had been shot down by anti-aircraft fire and he ejected. The first day in Laos, Sorensen was taken to a recovery dig site where team members and Laotian workers were excavating a large area in 4 meter by 4 meter grids. Soil was collected and then sifted to reveal any aircraft parts, human remains or personal effects. “We would find short pieces of metal, cloth and short pieces of fiberglass,” Sorensen said. He discovered a chunk of lead, which was used to help balance F-105 fighter jets.
The location of the downed aircraft was certain, but where Dinan's remains would be found remained a mystery.
“They were finding a lot of airplane parts, but they weren't finding any bones,” Sorensen said.
On the second day Sorensen and the search team visited several different suspected locations, but came up empty. Sorensen's hopes began to dim.
The locations they took him that second day were far too steep with karst formations of limestone reaching up from the bottom of the trailheads.
“It was obvious to me right from the get-go it was not the same,” Sorensen said about his memories of the location where he had left Dinan's tangled body on the ground. “I was not climbing on a karst (back in 1969).”
Sorensen's observations from the helicopter of the Laotian agricultural methods of burning sections of forest, establishing rice paddies and then abandoning those paddies over time also made him skeptical of finding any sign of Dinan. “I came to the conclusion there was no way I could tell them what hillside I was on (back then),” Sorensen said.



Gravesite Details CENOTAPH

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  • Created by: Finding Family
  • Added: 16 Jun 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 92019166
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lieut David Thomas Dinan, III (26 Jan 1944–17 Mar 1969), Find A Grave Memorial no. 92019166, citing Constitution Gardens, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Finding Family (contributor 47632171) .