More than a name: Lt. Stanley K. Smiley
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 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.