The Legend of Duke Cunningham’s “Col. Tomb”

Sometimes a rumor can take on a life of its own. Such was the case with the North Vietnamese Air Force’s “Col. Tomb,” a mythical ace with 13 victories who met his fate in the dogfight that made U.S. Lt. Randall “Duke” Cunningham and his radar intercept officer, Lt. j.g. William Driscoll, the first American aces of the war.

Over the years it has become apparent that Col. Tomb was a creation of overeager U.S. intelligence analysts. “Tomb” (or alternatively, “Toon”) is not even a Vietnamese name, a telling clue that a radio

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