Name: William Edward Neville
Rank/Branch: E6/US Air Force
Unit: 441st Bombardment Squadron
Date of Birth: 24 August 1933
Home City of Record: El Cajon CA
Date of Loss: 18 June 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 173000N 1180000E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 5
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: B52
Refno: 2032

Other Personnel in Incident: James A. Marshall; James M. Gehrig Jr.; Tyrrell
G. Lowry; Robert L. Armond; Harold J. Roberts Jr.; Frank P. Watson (all
missing) Joe Carrol Robertson, Capt, KIA.

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1991 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: Boeing B52 Stratofortress bombers have long been the Air Force's
most important strategic bomber. Used heavily in Vietnam, the venerable
aircraft continued its role throughout the Southeast Asia conflict and
played an important role in the Persian Gulf war two decades later.

On June 18, 1965, two B52 aircraft were performing a mission over the South
China Sea when they collided. The aircraft were approximately 250 miles
offshore at the point of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) when the accident
occurred. Apparently the crew of one of the aircraft survived or were
recovered, but the entire crew of the second remain missing.

The missing crew includes pilots Capt. Robert L. Armond and 1Lt. James A.
Marshall, and crewmembers Maj. James M. Gehrig, Capt. Tyrrell G. Lowry,
Capt. Frank P. Watson, TSgt. William E. Neville, and MSgt. Harold J. Roberts

All the crew and passengers on board the B52 downed that day were confirmed
dead. It is unfortunate, but a cold reality of war that their remains were
not recoverable. They are listed with honor among the missing because their
remains cannot be buried with honor at home.

Others who are missing do not have such clear-cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were
in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.

Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those
who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several
million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to
agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Detractors say it would be
far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive
home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.

Well over 1000 first-hand, eye-witness reports of American prisoners still
alive in Southeast Asia have been received by 1990. Most of them are still
classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe, the men are all dead, why the
secrecy after so many years? If the men are alive, why are they not home?


Subject: 18 Jun 65 MIA/POW List
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2000 13:22:57 GMT
From: "D C Macdonald" <>

I found your list of POW/MIAs.  I checked the date of 18 Jun 65 and found
eight names.  I believe all eight to be the victims of the mid-air crash
between two B-52F bombers of the 320th Bomb Wing (H) from Mather AFB, CA.
The first man listed, Bob Armond, was a friend of mine and had been my
instructor.  Eight men perished in the crash.  Five of twelve crew aboard
the two aircraft were known to have ejected, but one died in the sea of
injuries after his ejection.  Just thought you might wish to have updated

The B-52 aircraft I was on (from 7th Bomb Wing (H) at Carswell AFB, TX)
during this first-ever B-52 raid was on the same track directly 50 miles or
so behind the ill-fated crews and my pilot and copilot saw the explosion.
As the EWO, I had no visibility outside the aircraft.

BTW, the Electronic Warfare Officer Training Building at Mather AFB, CA (now
deactivated) was named for Bob Armond after his loss on that first "Arc
Light" mission.

My son-in-law went through navigator training at Mather about 1987 and went
on a visit to the Armond building. He found my class picture in the "rogue's
gallery" on the walls and said that my son (now a USAF helo pilot) looked
just like me.

Donald C Macdonald Jr, Capt USAF (retired)

Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 12:26:38 -0800
From: ted

I came across your bio of TSgt Roberts at

I flew on that mission that day, and your remarks don't have the story quite right.  This was the very first B-52 combat strike ever, carried out by 30 B-52s grouped in 10 cells of 3 aircraft each. Through a combination of circumstances, including an ill-conceived air refueling rendezvous plan, one cell elected to make a 360-degree turn for timing purposes and ended up flying head-on through a following cell. Two aircraft collided at a closing speed of about 1000 MPH, the wing of one striking the vertical stabilizer of the other, slicing off both.  They went down off the northern end of the Philippines, nowhere near the DMZ.

There were survivors and missing from both aircraft, and one confirmed fatality. Bob Armond was an Electronic Warfare Officer, not a pilot -- Jim Gehrig was the pilot on his crew.  Joe Robertson was the pilot on the other crew; he ejected but was severely injured in the process, and did not survive.  Don Harten, surviving copilot, has written an excellent book entitled Arc Light One about this incident and the events leading up to and following it.

I didn't check, but I imagine these corrections may apply to bios for others missing in this incident: James A. Marshall; James M. Gehrig Jr.; Tyrrell G. Lowry; William E. Neville; Robert L. Armond; Frank P. Watson.





Return to Service Member Profiles

On June 18, 1965, two B-52F Stratofortresses (tail numbers 57-179 and 57-047) carrying six crew members each collided in mid-air over the South China Sea while en route to Vietnam. Both aircraft were destroyed in the collision. Search and rescue efforts recovered four survivors and the remains of one additional crew member. The remaining seven crew members could not be found.

Technical Sergeant William Edward Neville, who entered the U.S. Air Force from California, served with the 441st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) and was a gunner aboard one of these B-52s. He was lost with his aircraft and remains unaccounted for. Today, Technical Sergeant Neville 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 Non-recoverable.

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.