Legacy of Lt. Col. Anthony Shine: Air Force Award Given in Honor of Fallen Pilot
“My father left a legacy of some of the most important character traits that I have tried to embody,” Colleen Shine said of her father Anthony C. Shine.
“They would be courage, strength, integrity, and commitment.”
In 1972, U.S. Air Force *Capt. Anthony Shine, an A-7 pilot, disappeared above the border of North Vietnam and Laos.
Colleen was just eight years old when she received the news that her father was missing. It would be more than two decades until she and her family received closure.
On December 2, 1972, Capt. Anthony Shine was piloting his A-7D aircraft on a reconnaissance and escort mission on the border of North Vietnam and Laos. He descended below cloud cover to look at their target area, a 10-mile stretch of road called Highway 7 and disappeared shortly afterwards. The passes through the mountain area were heavily concentrated with enemy missiles and a majority of those who went missing never returned. After Shine’s wingman did not hear from him, an extensive search was assumed, but to no avail. Rescue teams reported a fire on the ground, but no aircraft wreckage.
After the search, Shine was listed as missing in action.
Back home, the family of Anthony Shine worked continuously to find answers. And when Colleen became old enough, remained active in POW/MIA issues.
In the early 1990s, there was a small breakthrough when investigators from the Joint Task Force–Full Accounting located a crash site near the Laotian border. A helmet was recovered but there were “no identifying markings” nor human remains that would solidify a DNA test and Shine’s fate.
The Defense Department would drop the case but that didn’t stop Colleen from pursuing answers. And in 1995, she went to Vietnam to conduct her own search.
If there was anything more Colleen could do to receive closure, she wanted to try. During her time in Vietnam, she visited her father’s tentative crash-site where she found wreckage and parts of her father’s plane. She also met a Vietnamese villager who had kept a helmet as a memento of the war and gave it to her. When she turned over the helmet and looked inside, she saw that that her father’s name was written inside.
After returning home, Colleen had what she needed to press the US government about pursuing an extensive excavation of the site. Shine’s remains were repatriated June 6, 1995 and he was given a proper military burial at Arlington National Cemetery in 1996.
In 1980, Anthony’s wife Bonnie established an award in honor of her husband and those who remain missing in Vietnam. The Anthony C. Shine Award is given each year to a fighter pilot for proficiency and professionalism in flying a fighter aircraft.
This year, the Shine Award was presented in a special ceremony that took place on Thursday, August 11, 2016 at Langley Air Force Base in Newport News, Virginia. The Award has usually been presented at the recipient’s home base where their family and friends can be present.
The 2015 Anthony C. Shine Fighter Pilot Award winner was Captain Brian J. “Tron” Faughn. However, this year was unique in that it was the first time the award was presented to the 2011-2015 winners. Due to deployments and transfers to other bases, the Shine Award was presented to four recipients.
The ceremony for the 2013 winner will take place this September at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. Colleen’s uncle, Col. Al Shine (USA, Ret.) will likely be presenting.
This was also the first year Colleen’s children Chiara, 13, and Matthew, 11, helped their mother present the award and commemorative knives.
Past honorees of the Shine Award include:
2011 Anthony C. Shine Award
Capt Hugh E. Walker, III
While assigned to:
77 Fighter Squadron
Shaw AFB, South Carolina
Currently a Major and attending school at Princeton University
2012 Anthony C. Shine Award
Capt Daniel J. Joyce
While assigned to:
389 Fighter Squadron
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
Currently a Major and is assigned to the 613 AOC, Hickam AFB
2014 Anthony C. Shine Award
Maj David T. Madson
While assigned to:
16 Weapons Squadron
Nellis AFB, Nevada
Currently at Maxwell–Air Command and Staff College
2015 Anthony C. Shine Award
Capt Brian J. Faughn
While assigned to:
36 Fighter Squadron
Osan AB, Republic of Korea
Currently assigned to the 16 WPS, Nellis AFB
“There is an estimated 20,000 children who lost fathers in the Vietnam War,” Colleen said. She is currently part of Sons and Daughters In Touch, a support organization for those now-adult children who lost a parent in the Southeast Asia conflict.
Their names and the more than 58,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice are etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In addition to her father, the name of Colleen’s uncle is also inscribed on The Wall.
1LT Jonathan Cameron Shine fell in Vietnam on October 15, 1970.
“With a father and an uncle on The Wall, it’s a special place – a special memorial. [It is] something that honors what my family has given to this country,” Colleen added.
Today, because of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the children and grandchildren of those who died have a place to visit. In seeing the memorial, they can see their reflections. It symbolizes that the memories of one’s life continues in the living.
When Colleen’s children visit, they are learning to “honor and remember.”
Behind each name is a story and the story of Anthony Shine proves that legacies live forever.