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10 Unsolved Airplane Mysteries

        Science | Modern

6
The Vietnam War Casualties Who Never Got to Vietnam
Split seconds after a U.S. Caribou transport plane had been hit by American artillery, UPI photographer Miromichi Mine recorded this remarkable picture as the plane plummeted to earth at Ha Phan, Vietnam. The three crew members were killed. © Bettmann/CORBIS
Split seconds after a U.S. Caribou transport plane had been hit by American artillery, UPI photographer Miromichi Mine recorded this remarkable picture as the plane plummeted to earth at Ha Phan, Vietnam. The three crew members were killed. © Bettmann/CORBIS

These lost men have never had their names added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Even more oddly, no government agency — not the Army, Air Force, Pentagon, State Department, National Archives or CIA — admits to possessing any records about the mission. Yet in March 1962, Flying Tiger Line Flight 739, containing 93 U.S. military advisers, three South Vietnamese officers and 11 crew members, vanished between Guam and the Philippines on the way to Vietnam. No wreckage was ever found, though some witnesses reported seeing a vapor trail and explosion in the sky on the night it disappeared [source: Burke].

Some speculate that the aircraft was downed by Viet Cong sabotage, which would make the passengers among the first casualties of the Vietnam War. Others believe it was brought down by friendly fire. Eerily, at least three soldiers told their family members they had a premonition that they would not return from this mission alive [source: Burke].