BLANTON, CLARENCE "Bill" FINLEY
Remains Returned 01/18/2008
ID'd 07/2012

Name: Clarence Finley Blanton
Rank/Branch: O5/US Air Force
Unit: TDY-Civilian/Lockheed, Lima Site 85, Phou Pha Thi, Laos
Date of Birth: 01 September 1921
Home City of Record: El Reno OK
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 202600N 1034400E (UH680600)
Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered
Category:
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 2052

Other Personnel In Incident: James H. Calfee; James W. Davis; Henry G. Gish;
Willis R. Hall; Melvin A. Holland; Herbert A. Kirk; David S. Price; Patrick
L. Shannon; Donald K. Springsteadah; Don F. Worley (all missing from Lima
85); Donald Westbrook (missing from SAR 13 March)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
NETWORK 2012.


REMARKS:

SYNOPSIS: When Clarence Blanton volunteered for a sensitive assignment
called Project Heavy Green, his wife had to sign a secrecy agreement too.
Blanton, an Air Force officer, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to
take a civilian job with Lockheed Aircraft. He would be helping operate
radar equipment at Lima Site 85, a radar base in Laos, whose neutrality
prohibited U.S. military presence. The site helped direct navigation over
hostile areas of Laos for U.S. bombers headed towards North Vietnam. No one
was to know.

Lima 85 was on a peak in the Annam Highlands near the village of Sam Neua on
a 5860-foot mountain called Phou Pha Thi. The mountain was protected by
sheer cliffs on three sides, and guarded by 300 tribesmen working for CIA.
Unarmed US "civilians" operated the radar which swept across the Tonkin
Delta to Hanoi.

For three months in early 1968, a steady stream of intelligence was received
which indicated that communist troops were about to launch a major attack on
Lima 85. Intelligence watched as enemy troops even built a road to the area
to facilitate moving heavy weapons, but the site was so important that
William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, made the decision to leave the
men in place. When the attack finally came March 11, some were rescued by
helicopter, but eleven men were missing. The President announced a halt in
the bombing of North Vietnam.

Donald Westbrook was flying one of 4 A1E's orbiting on stand-by to search
for survivors of the attack at Phou Pha Thi when his plane was shot down
March 13. Westbrook was never found. Finding no survivors, the Air Force
destroyed Lima 85 to prevent the equipment from falling into the hands of
the enemy.

In mid March, Norma Blanton was notified that Lima Site 85 had been overrun
by enemy forces, and that her husband and the others who had not escaped had
been killed. Many years later, she learned that was not the whole truth.

Two separate reports indicate that all the men missing at Phou Pha Thi did
not die. One report suggests that at least one of the 11 was captured, and
another indicates that 3 were captured; another that 6 were captured.
Information has been hard to get. The fact that Lima Site 85 existed was
only declassified in 1983, and finally the wives could be believed when they
said their husbands were missing in Laos. Some of the men's files were shown
to their families for the first time in 1985.

Norma Blanton and the other wives have talked and compared notes. They still
feel there is a lot of information to be had. They believe someone survived
the attack on Lima Site 85 that day in March 1968. They wonder if their
country will bring those men home.