Name:  William (NMN) Boyle
Rank/Branch: Sergeant First Class/US Army
Unit:  Military Assistance Command Vietnam Special Operations Augmentation Command and Control Central
5th Special Forces Group, 
1st Special Forces 

Date of Birth: 26 November 1938 (Brooklyn, NY)
Home of Record: Watrous, PA
Date of Loss: 28 February 1970 
Country of Loss:  Laos
Loss Coordinates:  143753N 1072404E   (YB586188)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground:  CH34 "Seahorse"
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

SYNOPSIS:   One of the earliest helicopters employed in Southeast Asia, and the primary Marine Corps helicopter used during the early years of the war, was the Sikorsky UH34D Seahorse. This aircraft was already quite old when they arrived in the battle zone. However, both the US and South Vietnamese military found them to be extremely effective throughout the war.

On 28 February 1970, Special Forces SFC William Boyle was a passenger on a CH34 helicopter (tail #554324), call sign "King Bee," under the control of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). While assigned to MACV-SOG, Command and Control Central (CCC), SFC Boyle supervised a resupply/medivac mission of another CCC team comprised largely by indigenous personnel in the tri-border area where South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet. The Seahorse's destination was located in jungle covered mountains approximately 2 miles north of the Lao/Cambodian border, 15 miles west-southwest of Dak Seang, South Vietnam, and 1 miles south of Ban Pakha, Attapu Province, Laos.

MACV-SOG, or Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observation Group, was a joint service high command unconventional warfare task force engaged in highly classified operations throughout Southeast Asia. The 5th Special Forces channeled personnel into MACV-SOG (though it was not a Special Forces group) through Special Operations Augmentation (SOA), which provided their "cover" while under secret orders to MACV-SOG. These teams performed deep penetration missions of strategic reconnaissance and interdiction that were called, depending on the time frame, "Shining Brass" or "Prairie Fire" missions.

SFC Boyle had just completed loading several wounded ARVN soldiers and was last seen standing inside the aircraft by other soldiers who were to continue the ground team's mission when an enemy rocket hit the helicopter. The CH34 immediately exploded and the ensuing fire trapped everyone inside. No remains could be found after the fire was extinguished even though the wreckage and surrounding area was thoroughly searched. At the time the formal search effort was terminated, William Boyle, the ARVN aircrew and their wounded passengers, were all immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

William Boyle is among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

While the fate of SFC Boyle is in little doubt, he has a right to have he remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all possible. For other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate could be quite different.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

American servicemen in Vietnam were called upon to operate in many dangerous circumstances both on and off duty, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.