Dionne, Donald Thomas, Sr., SSgt

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Last Rank
Staff Sergeant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
43550-Flight Engineer Specialist
Last AFSC Group
Aircraft Maintenance
Primary Unit
1975-1975, 22nd Military Airlift Squadron
Service Years
1963 - 1975
Staff Sergeant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A3C Michael S. Bell to remember Dionne, Donald Thomas, Sr., SSgt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Sylmar, CA
Last Address
Clark AB, Philippines

Casualty Date
Apr 09, 1975
Non Hostile- Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Bien Hoa (Vietnam)
In The Line of Duty
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
01W 122

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

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Aircrew Enlisted (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
60th Military Airlift Wing22nd Military Airlift Squadron
  1974-1975, 60th Military Airlift Wing
  1975-1975, 22nd Military Airlift Squadron
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1975-1975 Operation Baby Lift (Vietnam)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
C-5 Galaxy  
  2003-2003, C-5 Galaxy
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Crewlist to the destroyed C5A Galaxy, "operation Babylift".

At 4:03 pm 03 Apr 1975 an Air Force C-5A Galaxy, serial number 80218, of the 60th Military Airlift Wing lifted off the runway at Tan Son Nhut AB near Saigon, bound for Clark AB in the Philippines. As the initial mission in "Operation Babylift", the C-5 carried Vietnamese orphans enroute the United States. The aircraft commander was Captain Dennis Traynor, the copilot Captain Tilford Harp, and there was a crew of 15 others, including a 10-person medical team.

The C-5's troop compartment contained 145 orphans and seven attendants, most of them civilian volunteers being evacuated from Vietnam. The cargo compartment held 102 orphans and 47 others.

Twelve minutes after takeoff, while the aircraft was passing though 23,000 feet, the rear loading ramp's locks failed, leading to explosive decompression and massive structural damage to the aircraft as the pressure door, most of the rear loading ramp, and the center cargo door departed the airframe. Control cables to the rudder and elevators were severed, leaving only one aileron and wing spoilers operating, and two of the four hydraulic systems were out.

Traynor applied full power to hold the nose up while Harp attempted to maintain a wings-level attitude. Just off the ground, Traynor reduced power to idle and the C-5 touched down in a rice paddy, skidded about 1,000 feet before becoming airborne again, hit a dike, and broke into four parts. The cargo compartment was completely destroyed, killing 141 of the 149 orphans and attendants. Only three of 152 in the troop compartment perished. Five of the flight crew, three of the medical team, and three other servicemen lost their lives, but 175 of the 328 aboard survived.

Rec'd 10 Jun 2015:

"I am in the process of updating all of the Fallen cemeteries for TWS.  I came across your remembrance of an Airman who was on the Saigon Crash.  This is an FYI for you.  Regarding Donald Thomas Dionne, Flight Engineer, 22 MAS.  The Saigon Crash Aircraft 80218, or 68218 actually lost 3 Hydraulic Systems when the rear pressure door blew out.  And The AFSC for Flight Engineers is 113x0.  I flew with several of the crew after the crash."


Scott Rogers Jr

MSgt. USAF Retired

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