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Daughter of Vietnam War veteran's refusal to give up on Dad leads to answers and a story to be proud of

JUNE 17, 2022

To commemorate Father's Day, we want to share this remarkable story about a daughter's love and the namesake of Shine Avenue in Myrtle Beach. Shine Avenue in the city’s Market Common district is named for Air Force serviceman Anthony “Tony” Shine, who was stationed at the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. The historic plaque can be found at Valor Memorial Garden, 1120 Farrow Parkway. It is one of more than 150 historical markers that remember the people, places and planes of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. But, the plaque shares only a part of the Shine story….
After his first tour in Vietnam, then-Captain Anthony “Tony” Shine returned home in 1970 to escort the body of his younger brother, Jonathan, after he was killed in action, shortly after graduating from the United States Military Academy (West Point). After the funeral, Tony deployed with the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron for his second tour of duty in Vietnam.
On December 2, 1972, Shine was the lead pilot on a combat mission. Upon arriving to the target area, he advised that he was going to descend in his A-7D through clouds to perform visual reconnaissance over the border between North Vietnam and Laos. His wingman lost radio contact with him, and a search-and-rescue operation failed to locate his plane.
Captain Shine was declared missing in action. Posthumously, Anthony Shine was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. His remaining brother, U.S. Army serviceman Alexander, was seriously wounded in the war and earned a Silver Star before retiring. His sister, Sarah, retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shine remained unaccounted for until 1995.
After college, Anthony Shine’s daughter, Colleen, made a trip to Vietnam with the hopes of learning what happened to him, and whether or not he was alive. Ahead of her search, the United States government had informed Colleen about a Vietnamese village that offered answers. The villagers had Lt. Col. Shine’s helmet and, to her surprise, her father’s name was handwritten inside. She was also led to the site where community members buried her father. Colleen Shine prompted the United States government to complete a full-scale evacuation of the site. To verify the remains, mitochondrial DNA testing was used, and it was indeed her father’s final resting place. As for Lt. Col. Anthony “Tony” Shine, his remains were repatriated for honorable burial at Arlington National Cemetery in 1996.
The experience motivated Colleen Shine to advocate for other families that simply need to know if their loved ones are living or deceased. She lobbied Congress on behalf of all Prisoners of War and Missing in Action servicemen and servicewomen, asserting the need for more action on the government’s part to bring resolution to these soldiers’ families. Today, she continues her work as an advocate, traveling the country to support Gold Star families.
The Air Force’s Top Gun Award was established in memory of Lt. Col. Shine and all Prisoners of War and Missing in Action airmen. Also in his memory, the Lt. Col. Anthony Shine Award is presented to the United States Air Force pilot who demonstrates superior professionalism and proficiency in flying a tactical fighter aircraft, offers a high caliber of moral character and demonstrates community service.
The Shine family DNA surely includes many honorable traits, including grit, endurance and an unwavering devotion to our country.
NOTE: A special thank you to Colleen Shine and retired City of Myrtle Beach team member Diane Moskow-McKenzie for inspiring this post.