Name: Willie Ernest Stark
Rank/Branch: E7/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment B-52 DELTA, 5th Special Forces Group
Date of Birth: 07 October 1932 (Martinsburg NV)
Home City of Record: Omaha NE
Date of Loss: 02 December 1966
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165048N 1063158E (XD634633)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Refno: 0536

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: Russell P. Bott; Daniel Sulander; Irby Dyer
(missing from UH1D exfiltration aircraft)


SYNOPSIS: In late November 1966, Russell Bott and Willie Stark were inserted
about 1 1/2 miles into Laos west of the DMZ along with a number of
Vietnamese Special Forces (LLDB) "strikers". The team, a long-range
reconnaissance patrol (LRRP), was soon discovered by a superior North
Vietnamese force, members of the 325B NVA Division. A two day running battle

Near the end, Bott radioed that he was down to one grenade and one magazine
of ammunition. He also stated that several of the Vietnamese members of his
team were dead or wounded. Willie Stark was wounded in the chest and leg,
but was alive. Bott requested exfiltration at that time. He refused to leave
his wounded teammate to seek safety, and in his last radio message, Bott
indicated that he was going to destroy his radio, that he felt capture was

Two gunships working the area were hit by enemy fire. Also, the exfiltration
helicopter from 281st Assault Helicopter Company was hit, and crashed and
burned, killing the crew of four and Irby Dyer, a medic from Det. B-52 Delta
who had gone in to help treat the wounded. The wreckage of the plane and all
five remains were found in searches conducted December 10-13. The remains,
which had been horribly mutilated by the enemy, were left at the site. When
a team returned to recover the remains, U.S. bombing and strafing activities
had destroyed them further. The identifiable remains of three of the crew
were recovered, but those of Daniel Sulander and Irby Dyer were not.

Searches for Bott and Stark were unsuccessful. Vietnamese team members who
evaded capture reported that they had heard North Vietnamese soldiers say,
"Here you are! We've been looking for you! Tie his hands, we'll take him
this way."

Sgt. First Class Norman Doney, who was Operations Sergeant at that time at
B-52 headquarters at Khe Sanh, overheard the Intelligence Sergeant on the
"52 Desk" reviewing intelligence about Bott. Doney states that it was
reported that Bott was seen with his arms tied behind his back going through
a village, and that he was alive 3 days after he became missing.

Bott, Dyer, Sulander and Stark are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos
during the Vietnam war. Although the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions
that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not one man held in
Laos was ever released...or negotiated for. Dyer and Sulander died for their
country. Stark's fate is unknown. He may have died from his wounds or
survived to be captured. Bott, at least, could be one of the hundreds of
Americans experts believe to be alive today. He was loyal to his comrades
and to his country. If he is alive, what must he be thinking of us?




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On December 2, 1966, a long-range reconnaissance patrol team comprising two American Special Forces members and four Vietnamese soldiers came under attack by enemy forces in the vicinity of (GC) XD 630 630 in Savannakhet Province, Laos. The enemy's attacks wounded and possibly killed the patrol leader. The assistant patrol leader requested immediate extraction from the area; however, the extraction attempt failed when the enemy ground fire forced the rescue helicopter to pull away before landing. The helicopter then crashed nearby. Throughout the incident, a friendly forward air controller (FAC) aircraft remained in radio contact with the assistant patrol leader on the ground in the vicinity of (GC) XD 634 633, with his last transmission stating that "they could see smoke from a crash" but making no reference to possible survivors. Further extraction or search efforts for the men were not possible at the time because of the intense enemy fire.

Sergeant First Class Willie Earnest Stark entered the U.S. Army from Nebraska and was a member of Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group. He was the patrol leader of this reconnaissance team when it was attacked, and he was lost in the incident. Subsequent to the incident, and while carried in the status of missing in action (MIA), the U.S. Army promoted Sergeant First Class Stark to the rank of Sergeant Major (SGM). Today, Sergeant Major Stark 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 Deferred.

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