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
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4F
Refno: 1470

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 1998.

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.

The Spotlight

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.

The problem with the Pentagon's supposed certain identification of
remains, however, is that the pilot was seen alive hundreds of miles away in
a prison camp in northern Laos SEVEN YEARS LATER.

The burial of the four Army airmen is the latest of the Pentagon's
interments of American servicement supposedly accounted for after being
missing in action in Southeast Asia from the Vietnem War, which ended in

Critics of the communal burials argue that the Pentagon is in a hurry to
dispose of as many unaccounted-for-missing-in-action cases as possible, in
order to pave the way for normalization of relations with Vietnam,
neighboring Laos, and Cambodia.

One businessman who has made numerous trips to Vietnam to push various
business ventures told The Spotlight that he anticipates a normalization of
relations in five or six months. He hopes to have U.S. government approval
soon for the opening of Vietnam for American tourists.


Informed sources have told The Spotlight that the alleged
"identifiable remains" located at the supposed crash site consisted of a
single tooth and a shiny ring, which had gone through an in-air explosion of
the aircraft and resulting intense fire. These remnants had been in the
ground for nearly 20 yrs.

The sources told the Spotlight that an Army team of experts in
searching aircraft crash sites located the "remains" last January, after the
site had previously been examined by a communist Laotian team, which
supposedly located the site.

The sources said that there was nothing left of the helicopter itself
at the site, since Laotians in the area had removed all of the metal and
other debris, which they sell for scrap.

How they then could locate the exact crash site in the dense jungle
area is unknown.

When queried about the identification being made with such an-apparent
lack of identifiable remains, the Pentagon stated that is has eyewitness
reports of the helicopter exploding in such a manner that no one could have


Therefore, the Pentagon proceeded with the identification and the
burial at Arlington.

A number of unidentifiable bone shards were also found and are buried
in the communal grave.

The Spotlight has been told that the U.S. government PAYS the LAOTIANS
$1 MILLION for each crash site that it examines and leaves behind the heavy
excavation gear after it leaves the site.

Critics of the Pentagon's identification process point out that there
were uip to 10 or 12 South Vietnamese soldiers aboard the helicopter when it

The bone fragments, Vietnamese and/or American, are buried in the
communal grave at Arlington. There is no mention made of the Vietnamese who
died and whose remains are co-mingled with the American remains.

The Pentagon is totally avoiding an eyewitness who swears that he had
encountered the helicopter pilot, Nelson, in a communist prison camp in
Northern Laos in 1978, five years after all American POWs were supposed to
have been released.


In 1988, a former officer of the Royal Laotian Army, Somdee
Phommachanh, reported in a television news broadcast that he was held captive
with Nelson and another American pilot in 1978.

Somdee said the pilots were brought to the camp that year. The former
Laotian officer, who escaped from the prison in 1984 and eventually made his
way to the United States, said that Nelson was in poor health and died at the
camp, which he pinpointed as being in Houay Ling in northern Laos, hundreds
of miles from the crash site. This was also seven years after the American
pilot supposedly had been killed in the crash in southern Laos.

Somdee was shown a group of 22 photographs, each of a different
individual and each cropped to the same size. From the group, he positively
identified Nelson, whom he claimed to have himself buried at the site of the

The other American POW, whom he identified as Navy Lt. Stanley K.
Smiley, a pilot, was taken from the camp shortly after Nelson's death, and
Somdee never saw him again. He is still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.

Somdee, who now works as a janitor in a rural school in the United
States, appeared at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on East Asian and
Pacific Affairs, which investigates reported sightings of American POWs in
Southeast Asia, to present testimony under oath about the two Americans.

The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY), REFUSED to let
him testify, sources told The Spotlight.

The sources also said that after Somdee had told his story to
television newsmen, he was "paid a visit by agents of the Defense
Intelligence Agency [DIA] who took him to a hotel room, which he was told he
could not leave until he signed a statement recanting his story." He was held
there, they said, 46 hours.

He was also told that "all [his] relatives in Laos would be killed"
[presumably by communists] if his story was told.

He did not recant, although the DIA claims that he did.

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