HUMMEL, JOHN FLOYD
Name: John Floyd Hummel
Rank/Branch: W1/US Army
Unit: Troop B, 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 164th Aviation Group
Date of Birth: 10 August 1948 (Pecos TX)
Home City of Record: Barstow TX
Date of Loss: 06 March 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 164204N 1063359E (XD670470)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Source: Compiled 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 in 2020.
Other Personnel in Incident: William P. Milliner (missing)
SYNOPSIS: On March 6, 1971, WO John F. Hummel, pilot, and WO William P.
Milliner, co-pilot, were flying an AH1G Cobra helicopter gunship (serial
#67-15464) as the wingman in a flight of two helicopters returning from a
combat support mission over Laos. While in route, the weather turned hazy.
At about 2000 hours, the wingman notified his troop's forward operation at
Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, that both gunships were planning to use a ground
control approach (GCA). That was the last radio contact with WO Hummel's
The lead gunship contacted the Khe Sanh GCA and was told to climb to 5000
feet and make a left 360 degree turn to a heading of 020 degrees. The
wingman was still with the lead aircraft at this time, but no radio contact
could be established with him.
Shortly after, the GCA control informed the lead aircraft to turn to a
heading of 070 degrees at 4000 feet. After a descending turn was initiated,
WO Hummel's aircraft passed over the top of the lead aircraft. This
separation occurred in the clear, and then the flight leader entered the
cloud layer so no further visual sighting of WO Hummel's aircraft occurred.
The lead aircraft landed safely.
Search and rescue efforts were begun for Hummel and Milliner, but had
negative results. Hummel and Milliner were listed Missing in Action. Some
years later, the Defense Intelligence Agency "rated" missing persons in
Southeast Asia according to the degree of suspected enemy knowledge, using a
scale of 1 to 5. Hummel and Milliner were classified "Category 1", meaning
the U.S. had reliable information that the enemy knew the fate of Hummel and
Milliner. Category 1 does not suggest whether an individual was alive or
dead at the time this knowledge was obtained.
Another confusing aspect of the records of Hummel and Milliner is that the
Defense Department classifies their loss as "non-hostile". This information
does not seem to correlate with known enemy knowledge of their fates, unless
reports were received that the two survived the crash of their aircraft only
to stumble into enemy hands at a later time. Clarifying information is not
available in public records.
Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos during the war in Vietnam. Although
the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of
American prisoners, Laos was not included in the negotiations ending
American involvement in the war, and the U.S. has never negotiated for the
freedom of these men since that time. Consequently, not one American held in
Laos has ever been released.
No one saw Hummel and Milliner die after their aircraft disappeared into the
clouds. As participants in missions over Laos, which were often classified
and dangerous, they were undoubtedly warned that they could be killed or
captured. They may not have dreamed they would be abandoned.
Louisville, KY Courier Journal
January 29, 1998
By Sheldon S. Shafer
The Courier Journal
County to fly POW flag; family says son is alive
A black-and-white prisoner of war flag will fly at the Jefferson County
courthouse after the family of Army warrant officer William Milliner
said they believe he remains alive and captive nearly 27 years after his
chopper crashed in Laos.
"Our son is alive. We know where he is within 10 kilometers," Joe
Milliner, the missing officer's father, said at a Fiscal Court meeting