Name: Marvin Benjamin Christopher Wiles
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 22, USS CORAL SEA
Date of Birth: 10 December 1943 (Denver CO)
Home City of Record: San Diego CA
Date of Loss: 06 May 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 173800N 1062800E (XE485485)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A7E
Refno: 1843
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
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.
SYNOPSIS: The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the
Communists as early as August 1964. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the
first U.S. Navy strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in
North Vietnam in early 1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The
next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first
photography of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1
Skyraider fighter aircraft was retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The
CORAL SEA participated in Operation Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American
personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and remained on station to assist the
crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by Cambodian forces in 1975. The
attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force
77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western
One of the aircraft that launched from the decks of the CORAL SEA was the
Vought A7 Corsair II single-seat attack jet. According to pilots, forward
air controllers (FAC) loved the A7, especially in North Vietnam. Whenever
A7s were around, they'd try to get them because of their ability to put the
ordnance right where it was supposed to be. The accuracy had little to do
with pilot technique, it was the bombing computers onboard the aircraft at
the time. The Corsair manufacturer had as many technical reps onboard the
ship as there were pilots, and they reps had the airplanes tuned to
perfection. A7s were also good on fuel, with an exceptionally long range
over 700 miles.
LT Marvin B.C. Wiles was a Corsair pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 22
onboard the CORAL SEA. On May 6, 1972, Wiles and his Air Wing Commander, CDR
Roger "Binkie" Sheets, launched in their A7E aircraft on a day armed
reconnaissance mission. (Armed reconnaissance meant search for targets and
destroy them, primarily truck convoys and the like, on this sort of general
Wiles and Sheets crossed the coast of North Vietnam just south of Vinh, a
common navigation point, and they saw a surface-to-air missile (SAM)
lift-off about ten miles to the left. Sheets radioed, "Okay Marv, do you
have the lift-off?" and Wiles responded, "I got it." Sheets said, "Arm your
bombs and let's go get 'em" making the decision to bomb the SAM site rather
than conduct reconnaissance as planned. Wiles took up a standard formation
of about 3,000 to 4,000 feet away from sheets.
The smoke had drifted away from the SAM site, so Sheets planned to go in as
fast as possible, confirm the site, pop up and go bomb it. In the meantime,
another aircraft - an "Iron Hand" SAM strike mission aircraft - in the area
had picked up the SAM launch signal and was monitoring the site as well.
Sheets flew over the site, confirmed it, rolled in, and bombed. As he was
pulling off, some three thousand feet off the ground, he rolled over to wait
for the bombs to hit. Before they struck, he saw a complete peppering of the
whole area, followed about two seconds later by his string of bombs that
went right across the upper half of the circular site.
What had happened was that the Iron Hand had launched a SHRIKE missile that
effectively covered the entire site. It had hit the radar van perfectly and
spread over the area, followed by Sheets' bombs.
Sheets pulled off to the left and came back to the right and heard SAM
signals again. He radioed Wiles to see if he was in on the target. When
Sheets looked back, he saw an airplane going into the ground. Wiles had been
hit by a SAM from another site which Sheets had picked up on his scope but
had not yet seen visually.
Shortly thereafter, Sheets saw Wiles' parachute and he followed it down
right into a village a few miles from the city of Quang Khe and about 14
miles northwest of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Wiles
landed right in the middle of the village. Sheets began to receive ground
fire and was forced to leave the area. The Air Wing Commander never saw
Wiles again.
The Navy assumed Wiles had been captured, and in June 1972, notified his
family that he had been captured. For the next months, they awaited his
release. When 591 Americans were released at the end of the war in Operation
Homecoming in the spring of 1973, Marvin Wiles was not among them. Although
he landed uninjured in the middle of a village, the Vietnamese deny any
knowledge of him. Subsequent information received by the U.S. revealed that
Wiles was killed in the village while resisting capture, almost immediately
after he landed.
Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports
relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in
Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having
examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded
that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago
Whether Wiles was killed in the village or survived to spend years in
captivity is unknown. It is not known if he might be among those thought to
be still alive today. What is certain, however, is that as long as even one
American remains alive, held against his will, we owe him our very best
efforts to bring him to freedom.
Marvin B.C. Wiles was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during
the period he was classified prisoner of war. An extremely gifted student,
Wiles was an honor student and was offered six college scholarships, five in
music and one by ROTC, which he refused in order to attend the U.S. Naval
Academy at Annapolis. Wiles is also a gifted musician. At the time of his
loss he was married, and had a son, Chris.
Subject: Marvin B.C. Wiles - Bio Info
Flight leader's name in the casualty report given to me, Donna J. Wiles,
wife  of Marvin Wiles, was CDR L.E.R. Giuliani. Please contact me if you
need verification or a copy of this report.  Thank you for the memorial and
tribute to the Vietnam MIA/POWs.
Sincerely ~ Donna Wiles