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Name: William Patrick Milliner

Rank/Branch:W1/US Army

Unit:Troop B, 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 164th Aviation Group

Date of Birth: 12 August 1950

Home City of Record:Louisville KY

Date of Loss:06 March 1971

Country of Loss:Laos

Loss Coordinates:164204N 1063359E (XD670470)

Status (in 1973): Missing In Action

Category: 1Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground


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 1998.

Other Personnel in Incident:John F. Hummel (missing)

SYNOPSIS: On March 6, 1971, WO John F. Hummel, pilot, and WO William P. Milliner, co-pilot, were flying an AH1G Cobra helicopter gunship (serial #67-15464) as the wingman in a flight of two helicopters returning from a combat support mission over Laos.

This is an AH1G Cobra Helicopter

While in route, the weather turned hazy. At about 2000 hours, the wingman notified his troop's forward operation at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, that both gunships were planning to use a ground control approach (GCA). That was the last radio contact with WO Hummel's aircraft.The lead gunship contacted the Khe Sanh GCA and was told to climb to 5000 feet and make a left 360 degree turn to a heading of 020 degrees. The wingman was still with the lead aircraft at this time, but no radio contact could be established with him.

Shortly after, the GCA control informed the lead aircraft to turn to a heading of 070 degrees at 4000 feet. After a descending turn was initiated, WO Hummel's aircraft passed over the top of the lead aircraft. This separation occurred in the clear, and then the flight leader entered the cloud layer so no further visual sighting of WO Hummel's aircraft occurred.The lead aircraft landed safely.

Search and rescue efforts were begun for Hummel and Milliner, but had negative results. Hummel and Milliner were listed Missing in Action. Some years later, the Defense Intelligence Agency "rated" missing persons in Southeast Asia according to the degree of suspected enemy knowledge, using a scale of 1 to 5. Hummel and Milliner were classified "Category 1", meaning the U.S. had reliable information that the enemy knew the fate of Hummel and Milliner.

Category 1 does not suggest whether an individual was alive or dead at the time this knowledge was obtained. Another confusing aspect of the records of Hummel and Milliner is that the Defense Department classifies their loss as "non-hostile". This information does not seem to correlate with known enemy knowledge of their fates, unless reports were received that the two survived the crash of their aircraft only to stumble into enemy hands at a later time. Clarifying information is not available in public records.

Nearly 600 Americans were lost in Laos during the war in Vietnam. Although the Pathet Lao stated on several occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, Laos was not included in the negotiations ending American involvement in the war, and the U.S. has never negotiated for the freedom of these men since that time. Consequently, not one American held in Laos has ever been released.No one saw Hummel and Milliner die after their aircraft disappeared into the clouds. As participants in missions over Laos, which were often classified and dangerous, they were undoubtedly warned that they could be killed or captured. They may not have dreamed they would be abandoned.

Louisville, KY Courier JournalJanuary 29, 1998By Sheldon S. Shafer

The Courier JournalCounty to fly POW flag; family says son is alive A black-and-white prisoner of war flag will fly at the Jefferson County courthouse after the family of Army warrant officer William Milliner said they believe he remains alive and captive nearly 27 years after his chopper crashed in Laos. "Our son is alive. We know where he is within 10 kilometers," Joe Milliner, the missing officer's father, said at a Fiscal Court meetingTuesday. Family members say they have evidence they believe proves William Milliner suffered permanent injuries and is being held captive in the Southeast Asian country a quarter century after the Vietnam War ended. They asked Fiscal Court to fly the commemorative POW flag -- which has the silhouette of a soldier's head inside a white circle on a black field -- to honor soldiers missing in action from Vietnam and otherwars. Judge-Executive Dave Armstrong said the county will fly the POW flag, along with the U.S. and Jefferson County flags. The request was overshadowed, however, by the family's claim that they have made significant strides in their effort to locate the pilot. Joe Milliner said he plans to publish a book this spring titled "The Angel and the Eagle" about the search. William Milliner, a 1968 graduate of Trinity High School who attended Western Kentucky University for a year, joined the Army at the height of the Vietnam War because he wanted to be a pilot, his father said. He was 20 when he was reported missing over Laos on March 6, 1971. According to the best accounts, Joe Milliner said, four Cobra helicopters, all low on fuel, had flown through a heavy barrage of North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire and were on their way back to their base in South Vietnam. William Milliner's helicopter never made it. The Army still lists him as missing in action. Larry Greer, a spokesman for the Defense Department's POW-Missing Personnel Office in Washington, appeared skeptical of the Milliner's claims. He said the department has "no knowledge of anyone being alive and held against their will" in Southeast Asia from the Vietnam era. "The evidence we have" would not support the Milliners' belief that their son is alive. Greer said. There are about 2,100 service members listed as missing from the Vietnam War, he said, and no soldier held prisoner has been found alive in nearly 20 years. Greer said some families of POWs have been the victim of scams, and he urged the Milliners to share any information they may have with hisoffice. But Joe Milliner said he has asked the military for help for many years and has been greeted with skepticism. "We gave up on (getting help from the military) four years ago," hesaid. Milliner said the family has been working primarily outside government channels to find his son. He referred to them as "private, mercenary types" but was reluctant to be more specific for fear that might jeopardize the effort. He said there had been at least one unsuccessful attempt to rescue William Milliner. Joe Milliner said the family has received independent reports of people seeing his son as recently as 1992. He believes his son has injuries including a "missing or useless" left arm and permanent damage to his left side and left ear which is partly missing. He also said he is trying to raise money to travel to Laos to search for his son.

Note: Joseph Milliner, father of William, was captured and held prisoner of war during WWII. In October of 1998, Joe's book, "The Angel and the Eagle" was released. The book is loaded with POW/MIA documentation. Both paperback ($19.95) and hardback (24.95) are available. Send checks to Mr. J. Milliner, 281 Fincastle Way, Shepardsville, KY 40165. Please add $4.00 for shipping and handling.

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