ARNOLD, WILLIAM TAMM
Name: William Tamm Arnold
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 22, USS CORAL SEA (CVA 43)
Date of Birth: 25 June 1940 (Milwaukee WI)
Home City of Record: West Allis WI (family in AZ)
Date of Loss: 18 November 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 173415N 1063230E (XE590575)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 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.
REMARKS: AIRCRAFT DOWNED AT SEA
SYNOPSIS: Lt. William T. Arnold was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 22
onboard the aircraft carrier USS CORAL SEA. On November 8, 1966, Arnold was
flying as wingman in an A4C Skyhawk aircraft, "Beef Eater 222", during a
coastal weather reconnaissance mission.
The flight approached the North Vietnamese coast 15 to 20 miles south of Cap
Mui Ron. The weather was overcast and was solid up to approximately 7,000
feet. Flying beneath the overcast approximately 7 miles from the coast, the
flight leader determined that the cloud base was of sufficient height to
effect a bombing maneuver. The flight leader completed his maneuver, staying
beneath the overcast, and was turning east when he heard the transmission,
"I'm in the clouds, coming down." The leader looked back, but did not see
Arnold's aircraft. The flight leader called to Arnold but received no
response. He saw no evidence of an ejection nor any debris which would
indicate a crash.
Search and rescue efforts were initiated from the USS CORAL SEA, but were
negative. It is the assumption of the wingman that Arnold became disoriented
in his maneuver and in trying to recover, crashed into the sea. Further, the
possibility that he ejected in the proximity of land and was captured was
considered very remote. Arnold's last known location, however, was quite
near the coast of North Vietnam off Quang Binh Province, just south of the
halfway point between the cities of Quang Khe and Dong Hoi.
A report was received from the Vietnamese that a pilot parachuted down on
shore in the general vicinity of Arnold's disappearance, hit his head on a
rock which killed him and was then buried. This report was tentatively
correlated with Arnold's case, although the date of this alleged event was
in December, and did not match date-wise to Arnold's loss.
Even though Bill Arnold was not thought to have been captured, he was not
declared dead for over 12 years. His case was among 200 "discrepancy cases"
sent with Presidential emissary General John Vessey to Vietnam -- cases
which the Vietnamese should readily be able to resolve.
The fact is, we don't know exactly what happened to Bill Arnold on November
18, 1966. The U.S. Government felt there is sufficient doubt that he died to
declare him Missing in Action instead of dead, and enough chance that the
Vietnamese know his fate to have twice presented information on the case to
them for resolution.
Nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have
been received by the U.S. since the war ended. Many officials who have
reviewed this largely classified information have concluded that hundreds of
Americans are still alive in captivity. Whether Bill Arnold is one of them
is unknown. But as long as even one American remains alive, held against his
will, we have a legal and moral obligation to see that he is free. It's time
our men came home.