Name: Melvin Arnold Holland
Rank/Branch: E6/US Air Force
Unit: (See text)
Date of Birth: 06 January 1936
Home City of Record: Toledo WA
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 202600N 1034400E (UH680600)
Status (in 1973): Killed In Action/Body Not Recovered
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 2052

Other Personnel In Incident: Clarence Blanton; James Calfee; James Davis; Henry
Gish; Willis Hall; Herbert Kirk; David Price; Patrick Shannon; Donald
Springsteadah; Don Worley (all missing from Lima 85); Donald Westbrook (missing
from SAR 13 March)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 31 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.


SYNOPSIS: When Melvin Holland volunteered for a sensitive assignment called
Project Heavy Green, his wife had to sign a secrecy agreement too. Holland,
an Air Force man, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to take a civilian
job with Lockheed Aircraft. He would be on the team running Lima 85, a radar
base in Laos, whose neutrality prohibited U.S. military presence, so it was
necessary for Holland to work as a civilian. No one was to know.

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

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 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 four 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, Ann Holland 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 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. Officially, the U.S. Air Force "civilians" were
assigned to the 1043rd Radar Evaluation Squadron at Bolling AFB in
Washington D.C.

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


Woman seeks return of husband who disappeared in Laos in 1968


Tears fill Ann Holland's eyes as she recalls the 35-year-old memory.

"I'll never forget hanging up the phone and leaning my head against the
wall," she said in a recent interview from her daughter's home in Carson

Sheila Gardner, Carson-Douglas bureau chief for the Reno-Gazette Journal,
can be reached at 885-5561 or sgardner@rgj.com. Her column appears on



40 years later, a sense of closure in Toledo

Friday, September 5, 2008 6:20 PM PDT

By Barbara LaBoe

TOLEDO — Ann Holland has spent 40 years wondering what really happened to her husband on a top secret mission in Laos during the Vietnam war. She still has more questions than answers, but she says Saturday’s dedication of a MIA memorial here will at last bring some sense of closure.....

Much of Woodland woman's POW research on husband lost in theft by grandson

By Tony Lystra / The Daily News | Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 10:15 pm | (41) Comments

.....Now, much of that is gone, too. On June 2, Holland's grandson, Daniel Lee Cronin Jr., broke into her Woodland home and stole $15,000 worth of jewelry, electronics and cash, Holland said in a letter to the Cowlitz County Superior Court. Among the items stolen, she said, were two laptops which contained documents related to her search for her husband......

Posted in Local, Crime-and-courts on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 10:15 pm Updated: 9:18 pm. | Tags:


National Alliance of Families
For the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen
World War II – Korea – Cold War – Vietnam – Gulf Wars
Dolores Alfond --- 425-881-1499
Lynn O’Shea ------ 718-846-4350
Web Site -- www.nationalalliance.org
Email ------ lynn@nationalalliance.org
October 2, 2010                                             Bits N Pieces                         
The 111th Congress – Congress recessed this past week as members returned to their districts to campaign for the upcoming election.   Once again, the leadership in the House of Representatives ignored our repeated calls for a vote on H. Res. 111, calling for a House Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.   This in spite of the fact that 291 congressman, in a totally bi-partisan effort, co-sponsored this important resolution.   A lot of work, nationwide, went into getting those 291 co-sponsors. 
We’re disappointed and we know you are too.  However, we are not giving up.  Passage of H. Res. 111 may be the last hope for the POWs and MIAs, left behind in World War II, Korea, Cold War and Vietnam.
It is important to remember two critical facts.
1. The final report of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs concluded; “There is evidence; moreover, that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number, after Operation Homecoming.”   
Today, we know the small number was 59 and that the 59 represented the “minimum number.”
2.  Congress has not conducted an in-depth investigation into the issue of World War II, Korea and Cold War POWs and MIAs.
Come January, we will gear up once again to battle congress.   Our POWs and MIAs deserve a voice in Congress.   With your help and continued efforts, they will have their voice.
Recognition Long Overdue - On September 21st President Barak Obama presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to the family of Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger.    Etchberger was among small group of highly trained technicians mustered out of the service to serve as civilian at a top secret radar base in Laos.  On the night of March 11th, 1968, the base, known as Lima Site 85, was attacked by North Vietnamese forces.
Repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire, Etchberger saved the lives of three of his wounded comrades.  One at a time he loaded them into a helicopter rescue sling.   Etchberger was the last man up.  As the helicopter began moving away, a bullet pierced the helicopter skin killing Sgt. Etchberger.
In a White House ceremony, the President outlined Etchberger’s heroism noting that the Etchberger children were told their father died in a helicopter crash.   Commenting on Etchberger’s wife, the President said only she knew the true circumstances of Etchberger’s loss but was sworn to secrecy.   She o
nly spoke of the mission after 1988 when it was declassified.

The Rest of the Story -- Unfortunately, the media failed to report the complete story of Lima Site 85 and the fact that 10 Airman from the site remain Missing in Action.   They are; Mel Holland, Willis Hall James Calfee, Clarence Blanton, James Davis; Henry Gish, Herbert Kirk, David Price, Donald Springsteadah and Don Worley.  Remains identified as Patrick Shannon were returned to his family in 2005.
In commenting that the mission remained classified until 1988, it must be noted that if not for the efforts of Ann Holland the story of Site 85 might still be classified.   If you would like to know more about Lima Site 85, the men who manned the site and Ann Holland’s efforts to find the truth read “One Day Too Long” by Timothy Castle.  It’s available at Amazon.com. ....



Lynn O'Shea
Director of Research
National Alliance of Families
for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen
World War II - Korea - Cold War - Vietnam - Gulf Wars - Afghanistan






Return to Service Member Profiles

On March 11, 1968, North Vietnamese soldiers conducted a sapper attack against a U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Navigation system, designated Lima Site 85 in Houaphan Province, Laos, also referred to as Phou Pha Thi. The enemy attacked very early in the morning, using grenades and mortars, and eventually killing eleven U.S. Air Force personnel. Nine Americans were later rescued from the site, one who was wounded and then later died of his injuries before he reached the evacuation base.

Technical Sergeant Melvin Arnold Holland, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Washington, served with Detachment 1, 1043rd Radar Evaluation Squadron. He was one of the Air Force technicians killed during the attack on the Lima Site 85 TACAN site on Pha Thi Mountain, and his body was not recovered. Today, Technical Sergeant Holland 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.

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