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Two Carbon MIAs in theVietnam War

Published March 02. 2013 09:01AM

What dedicated parents the late Anthony and Immaculata Giannangeli of Lansford were.

They spent the last decades of their life desperately trying to find their son; a mission they never accomplished.

The son, United States Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony Giannangeli, became missing in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam on the afternoon of April 2, 1972. It was during a four-year bombing halt by President Lyndon Johnson in a bid for a peaceful resolution to the long war that Giannangeli went missing.

Giannangeli was 41 years old at the time, less than a year from retiring from the military.

He's one of two Vietnam War MIAs from Carbon County.

The other is Air Force Captain Samuel O'Donnell Jr. of Weatherly, who was in a reconnaissance plane that went missing on July 12, 1972 during what was called "Operation Linebacker." The mission involved targeting supply lines in North Korea. He was 29 at the time.

The plane went down in a reservoir. When the reservoir was drained, the wreckage of the plane was found, but there was no sign or either crewmen, nor evidence to indicate they perished.

The remains of the pilot of O'Donnell's plane, James L. Huard, were identified in 1997. O'Donnell's remains are still missing.

So are Giannangeli's.

Until their deaths, Giannangeli's held hope that their son would not only be found, but found alive.

That's because the crew on the helicopter was not an ordinary crew. The crew would be a prize capture for the enemy because of the military knowledge they possessed.

U.S. efforts to locate the downed aircraft with Giannangeli were unsuccessful and resulted in another plane being shot down.

The airman's parents spoke out publicly, declaring that our government wasn't doing enough to get our POWs back from Vietnam.

They traveled throughout the state talking about MIAs. They marched in protests in Washington D.C. until threatened with arrests.

They couldn't remember how many letters they sent to congressmen, senators, and even some presidents, except that there were a lot.

The father even took a trip to Thailand and Vietnam, against the advise of our government, in an effort to find their son. In Vietnam, he paid money to people who he though had leads. He displayed pictures of his son and left them at various locations. He found bullet holes in his luggage when he returned home.

Unfortunately, nothing panned out.

The senior Giannangeli worked for 40 years as a coal miner. What a job he did raising a son!

Airman Giannangeli graduated from St. Ann's School in Lansford, went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later joined the Air Force.

Prior to going to Asia, Col. Giannangeli taught in Colorado Springs in the Air Force Academy.

He was married to the former Mary Louise Grife of Nesquehoning, who moved with him to Colorado. They had six children. She had planned to visit him in Vietnam on April 26, 1972, but he went missing 3 1/2 weeks before then.

Anthony Giannangeli Jr. would have been 81 this past Thursday, Feb. 28, if he was still alive.

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