Name: McKinley Nolan
Rank/Branch: E2/US Army
Unit: 1st Infantry Division
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Washington TX
Date of Loss: 09 November 1967
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 104520N 1063900E
Status (in 1973): AWOL/Deserter
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 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. 2016
REMARKS: LAST SEEN PA>AA 2 NOV 1973
SYNOPSIS: PVT McKinley Nolan served with the 1st Infantry Division near Saigon.
On November 9, 1967, he disappeared with his Cambodian wife. After that, all
sources seem to indicate that Nolan went over to the enemy.
Nolan later turned up in Hanoi, doing some broadcasts for Radio Hanoi and
writing leaflets that were circulated among American prisoners of war. One
returned POW, James Stockdale, described him as a "U.S. soldier who defected in
South Vietnam and supplied Hanoi Hannah with tapes on defecting."
Returned POWs reported seeing him almost daily, together with his Cambodian wife
and child. He reportedly later went over to the Khmer Rouge, who were then
fighting alongside the Vietnamese. When the Americans left in 1975, and Vietnam
invaded Cambodia, Nolan was caught in the middle and told a source he had been
"mistreated" by the Vietnamese.
In late May, 1974, Nolan and his family were seen at a coffee plantation in
Cambodia where he went by the name of Buller. A later CIA document stated he was
alive and healthy in 1978 and there was an unconfirmed report that he visited
Cuba in 1978. This report was confirmed by a late-returning POW (Robert Garwood)
who stated he had heard this information while held in Vietnam.
In 1986, several national news articles revealed that intelligence documents
showed at least 7 missing Americans had been seen alive in Vietnam in the last
dozen years, including McKinley Nolan.
POW/MIA advocacy groups reverberated with anticipation, wondering if Nolan would
ultimately be brought home, to provide new information on those men still
missing would be available. No further word surfaced on Nolan in the next few
years, and the hope vanished.
Nolan, for whatever reason, apparently chose love of a woman over love of his
country and remained behind, perhaps even to defect. America cannot completely
ignore a man who may have a wealth of information on Americans still alive in
Vietnam. If McKinley Nolan should ever wish to return to his homeland, will what
he has to say about missing Americans be discounted because of allegations that
he defected? How much less forgiving would we be to him than we were to those
Americans who fled to Canada to avoid the war?...or to a woman who once
playfully aimed a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun to the skies over Hanoi in
protest of American bombing of Vietnam?
POW MIA in Cambodia
[NOTED "Major Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for JPAC, the Joint POW-MIA
Accounting Command, said Wednesday that his agency believes Nolan is
dead. "Our indications are that McKinley Nolan is not alive," DeSantis
said. "We do have witnesses who say that he was executed." He said he
did not know who killed Nolan or the manner in which he was executed.
The agency, he said, is more interested in recovering soldiers' remains
than it is with the particulars of their deaths. JPAC was in Cambodia
investigating the Nolan case as recently as May, DeSantis said. But, he
said, it has yet to find credible information that will lead
investigators to Nolan's grave site."]
Tracking McKinley, Part 1: Encounter in Cambodia lands Kelso vet in the
middle of a decades-old manhunt
Sunday, June 1, 2008 8:34 PM PDT
By Tony Lystra
Part 1 of a two-part series
At night, Dan Smith sees the face of McKinley Nolan, the Vietnam war
traitor, the man who wandered into the jungle and, according to the U.S.government, joined the Viet Cong. He can't shake the image. The high
cheekbones. The narrow nose. The blank, fearful stare in the
black-and-white photo he keeps......
Government discusses the McKinley Nolan case.
Originally published June 1, 2008.
Tracking McKinley, Part 2: 'Back to being Dan again'
Sunday, June 1, 2008 11:31 PM PDT
By Tony Lystra
Part 2 of a two-part series
Dan Smith returned from Cambodia, charged and eager to report what he'd
found to the group. The Vietnam veteran, who had initially wanted to
track down a traitor and see him jailed, was now startled by what
Cambodian villagers had told him: Nolan, they said, was a generous,
selfless man who sacrificed himself to protect his friends from the
On Nov. 9, 1967, weeks from completing a two-year hitch in the Army, McKinley
Nolan disappeared from his 1st Infantry Division unit. Communist Viet Cong
propaganda broadcasts and leaflets later featured him urging fellow black
soldiers to lay down their weapons.