WILES, MARVIN BENJAMIN CHRISTOPHER
Name: Marvin Benjamin Christopher Wiles Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 22, USS CORAL SEA Date of Birth: 10 December 1943 (Denver CO) Home City of Record: San Diego CA Date of Loss: 06 May 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 173800N 1062800E (XE485485) Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A7E Refno: 1843 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 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. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2001.
SYNOPSIS: The USS CORAL SEA participated in combat action against the Communists as early as August 1964. Aircraft from her squadrons flew in the first U.S. Navy strikes in the Rolling Thunder Program against targets in North Vietnam in early 1965 and participated in Flaming Dart I strikes. The next year, reconnaissance aircraft from her decks returned with the first photography of Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites in North Vietnam. The A1 Skyraider fighter aircraft was retired from the USS CORAL SEA in 1968. The CORAL SEA participated in Operation Eagle Pull in 1975, evacuating American personnel from beleaguered Saigon, and remained on station to assist the crew of the MAYAGUEZ, which was captured by Cambodian forces in 1975. The attack carriers USS CORAL SEA, USS HANCOCK and USS RANGER formed Task Force 77, the carrier striking force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific.
One of the aircraft that launched from the decks of the CORAL SEA was the Vought A7 Corsair II single-seat attack jet. According to pilots, forward air controllers (FAC) loved the A7, especially in North Vietnam. Whenever A7s were around, they'd try to get them because of their ability to put the ordnance right where it was supposed to be. The accuracy had little to do with pilot technique, it was the bombing computers onboard the aircraft at the time. The Corsair manufacturer had as many technical reps onboard the ship as there were pilots, and they reps had the airplanes tuned to perfection. A7s were also good on fuel, with an exceptionally long range over 700 miles.
LT Marvin B.C. Wiles was a Corsair pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 22 onboard the CORAL SEA. On May 6, 1972, Wiles and his Air Wing Commander, CDR Roger "Binkie" Sheets, launched in their A7E aircraft on a day armed reconnaissance mission. (Armed reconnaissance meant search for targets and destroy them, primarily truck convoys and the like, on this sort of general mission.)
Wiles and Sheets crossed the coast of North Vietnam just south of Vinh, a common navigation point, and they saw a surface-to-air missile (SAM) lift-off about ten miles to the left. Sheets radioed, "Okay Marv, do you have the lift-off?" and Wiles responded, "I got it." Sheets said, "Arm your bombs and let's go get 'em" making the decision to bomb the SAM site rather than conduct reconnaissance as planned. Wiles took up a standard formation of about 3,000 to 4,000 feet away from sheets.
The smoke had drifted away from the SAM site, so Sheets planned to go in as fast as possible, confirm the site, pop up and go bomb it. In the meantime, another aircraft - an "Iron Hand" SAM strike mission aircraft - in the area had picked up the SAM launch signal and was monitoring the site as well. Sheets flew over the site, confirmed it, rolled in, and bombed. As he was pulling off, some three thousand feet off the ground, he rolled over to wait for the bombs to hit. Before they struck, he saw a complete peppering of the whole area, followed about two seconds later by his string of bombs that went right across the upper half of the circular site.
What had happened was that the Iron Hand had launched a SHRIKE missile that effectively covered the entire site. It had hit the radar van perfectly and spread over the area, followed by Sheets' bombs.
Sheets pulled off to the left and came back to the right and heard SAM signals again. He radioed Wiles to see if he was in on the target. When Sheets looked back, he saw an airplane going into the ground. Wiles had been hit by a SAM from another site which Sheets had picked up on his scope but had not yet seen visually.
Shortly thereafter, Sheets saw Wiles' parachute and he followed it down right into a village a few miles from the city of Quang Khe and about 14 miles northwest of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Wiles landed right in the middle of the village. Sheets began to receive ground fire and was forced to leave the area. The Air Wing Commander never saw Wiles again.
The Navy assumed Wiles had been captured, and in June 1972, notified his family that he had been captured. For the next months, they awaited his release. When 591 Americans were released at the end of the war in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973, Marvin Wiles was not among them. Although he landed uninjured in the middle of a village, the Vietnamese deny any knowledge of him. Subsequent information received by the U.S. revealed that Wiles was killed in the village while resisting capture, almost immediately after he landed.
Since American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner, or otherwise unaccounted for in Indochina have been received by the U.S. Government. Many officials, having examined this largely classified information, have reluctantly concluded that many Americans are still alive today, held captive by our long-ago enemy.
Whether Wiles was killed in the village or survived to spend years in captivity is unknown. It is not known if he might be among those thought to be still alive today. What is certain, however, is that as long as even one American remains alive, held against his will, we owe him our very best efforts to bring him to freedom.
Marvin B.C. Wiles was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during the period he was classified prisoner of war. An extremely gifted student, Wiles was an honor student and was offered six college scholarships, five in music and one by ROTC, which he refused in order to attend the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Wiles is also a gifted musician. At the time of his loss he was married, and had a son, Chris.
10/08/01 Subject: Marvin B.C. Wiles - Bio Info
Flight leader's name in the casualty report given to me, Donna J. Wiles, wife of Marvin Wiles, was CDR L.E.R. Giuliani. Please contact me if you need verification or a copy of this report. Thank you for the memorial and tribute to the Vietnam MIA/POWs.
Sincerely ~ Donna Wiles