SMILEY, STANLEY KUTZ
Name: Stanley Kutz Smiley
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 23, USS ORISKANY
Date of Birth: 31 January 1939
Home City of Record: Sidney NE
Date of Loss: 20 July 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 161100N 1064059E
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 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, the SPOTLIGHT. Updated
by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2020.
REMARKS: Lt. Stanley K. Smiley was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 23
onboard the USS ORISKANY (CVA34). On the afternoon of July 20, 1969 he
launched in his A4F Skyhawk attack aircraft as the flight leader of a
two-aircraft flight on a road reconnaissance, bomb/strafe mission over Laos.
The aircraft were in Saravane Province, about 40 miles west of the South
Vietnamese city of A Shau when they had completed their initial mission and
were enroute to the aircraft carrier. Lt. Smiley sighted a truck and told
him wingman that he was going to confirm whether or not it was rolling stock
or a hulk. As the wingman prepared to follow his flight leader in an attack,
he saw Lt. Smiley's aircraft in a shallow dive about 60 degrees off the
planned attack heading. The aircraft crashed. The wingman reported that
Smiley never radioed any malfunction, the flight did not receive any
anti-aircraft fire during the mission, yet the crash occurred in a known
high concentration anti-aircraft artillery location. The aircraft did not
burn or explode upon impact with the ground.
No sign was found during an aerial search that Lt. Smiley had successfully
ejected the aircraft, but the hostile threat in this area of Laos precluded
any close inspection of the air crash site.
Lt. Smiley was declared Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. No one really
gave him any hope of survival.
In 1988 a former officer in the Royal Lao Army, Somdee Phommachanh, stated
on national television that he was held captive along with two Americans at
a prison camp in northern Laos. He and the two Americans had become friends.
One day Somdee found one of the prisoners dead in his cell. Somdee
identified the American very positively from a photo. His name, he said, was
David Nelson. Somdee buried his friend with all the care he would a
cherished loved one, given his limited ability as a prisoner of war. The
other prisoner, Somdee said, was Stanley Smiley. It was not long after
Nelson died that the Vietnamese came and took Smiley away. Somdee does not
know what happened to him.
Although Somdee has been threatened, he has stuck to his story. Stanley
Smiley and David Nelson were held prisoner after American troops left
Southeast Asia and after the President of the United States announced that
all American prisoners of war had been released.
If Stanley Smiley and David Nelson survived, what of the others? If Smiley
and Nelson were abandoned by the country they served, how many more were
also abandoned? Not a single American held by the Lao (and there were nearly
600 lost there) was ever released or negotiated for.
PENTAGON BURIES ANY BODIES;
On October 5, the Department of Defense buried in a communal grave at
Arlington National Cemetery the supposed remains of four U.S. Army helicopter
crewmen, who allegedly died when their UH-1H helicopter was shot down over
southern Laos on March 5, 1971.
The Pentagon has identified the remains as those of the pilot, Capt.
David L.Nelson, of Kirkland, Washington, and crewman Michael Eli King of
Calhoun, Georgia; Ralph Angelo Moreira Jr. of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and
John Clinton Hatley of Albemarle, North Carolina......