Name: Lee Dufford Harley
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Date of Birth: 21 January 1940
Home City of Record: Danville VA
Date of Loss: 18 May 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 171500N 1061000E (XE256083)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: O1E

Other Personnel In Incident: Andre R. Guillet (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.  2020


SYNOPSIS: Airman First Class Lee D. Harley was the pilot and Capt. Andre Guillet
was serving as observer aboard an O1E aircraft which departed on May 18, 1966
for a mission over Laos. While in Laos, west of the demilitarized zone and just
south of the famed Ban Karai Pass, the little spotter plane was shot down. Air
Force officials told the families that the plane burst into flames on impact and
the crew could not be recovered.

If this were all there was to the story, critics wonder, why did the Air Force
not declare the two men Killed/Body Not Recovered? A reasonable assumption is
that there exists no certainty that the two men were killed when their plane
went down, and the possibility exists that they could have successfully bailed
out before impact. Regardless, it is strongly suspected that the Lao or the
North Vietnamese know the fates of the crew of the O1E.

Guillet and Harley are two of nearly 600 Americans who were lost in Laos during
American involvement in the Vietnam War. U.S. presence in Laos was in violation
of Laos' neutrality guaranteed at Geneva by agreement of several nations. But
because the Vietnamese (and also the Chinese) were operating in Laos as well, it
was convenient for all parties concerned to "look the other way." As a
consequence, it would not have been appropriate to recognize the communist
government of Laos, the Pathet Lao, in a treaty to end the war - since we were
not at war with Laos - and the American prisoners the Pathet Lao stated they
held were abandoned.

As reports continue mount concerning Americans still missing in Southeast Asia,
many authorities are convinced that hundreds of them are still alive today. One
must wonder, are Guillet and Harley among them? If so, what must they be
thinking of the country they proudly served?

Andre R. Guillet was promoted to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant and Lee D.
Harley to the rank of Major during the period they were maintained missing.





Return to Service Member Profiles

On May 18, 1966, an 0-1F Bird Dog (tail number 57-2877, call sign "Gombey 19") departed Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base on a two-plane visual reconnaissance mission over Laos. Once airborne, "Gombey 19" was called in for a forward air control mission and directed air strikes for approximately two hours. "Gombey19 " was radioing back assessments of air strike damage when its transmission abruptly stopped. The other aircraft on the mission flew to its last known position and saw burning wreckage below. The enemy fire prevented further observation, and the second aircraft returned to base. A search and rescue effort hampered by intense enemy ground fire.

Captain Lee Dufford Harley, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Virginia, served with the 505th Tactical Reconnaissance Group. He was the pilot of "Gombey 19" when the aircraft was shot down on May 18, 1966, and his remains were not recovered. While carried in the status of missing in action, the U.S. Air Force promoted Capt Harley to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Harley is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

Service member profile discrepancy? Please help us ensure the accuracy of each profile by submitting documentation about a service member profile.