Name: William Edward Dillender 
Rank/Branch: Sergeant/US Army 
Unit: Company B, 101st Aviation Battalion, 
101st Airborne Division 

Date of Birth: 06 October 1951
Home of Record: Naples, FL
Date of Loss: 20 March 1971 
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 163544N 1062513E (XD515352)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1 "Iroquois"
Other Personnel In Incident: John J. Chubb, Jack L. Barker and John F. Dugan (missing) 


SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "Slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
Oscar Eight was the code name given to a sector of eastern Laos located in rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 25 miles northwest of the infamous A Shau Valley, South Vietnam. The area encompassed the junction of Highway 92, which was a primary north-south artery of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and Highway 922, which branched off and ran directly east where it crossed into South Vietnam at a strategic point near the northern edge of the A Shau Valley. Oscar Eight was also located at the southeastern end of a large and narrow jungle covered valley that had two primary roads running through it, one on each side of the valley. Highway 92 ran along the west side and Highway 919 along the east. A power line ran parallel to Highway 92 and sometimes crossed it. In addition to the roads and power line, the Hoi An River also flowed through the valley passing the road junction roughly 1 mile west of it.

More American aircraft were downed in this sector than any other place in Laos. This was because burrowed deep in the hills of Oscar Eight was North Vietnamese General Vo Bam's 559th Transportation Group's forward headquarters. It was also the Ho Chi Minh Trail's control center and contained the largest NVA storage facility outside of North Vietnam. Oscar Eight was defended by consecutive belts of anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) guns of all sizes that were not only stationed on the ground, but also mounted on platforms in the trees and were expertly camouflaged. Oscar Eight also favored the enemy because the only suitable landing zones were located in a wide bowl surrounded by jungle covered high ground containing AAA guns and bunkered infantry.

On 20 March 1971, Capt. John F. Dugan, aircraft commander, Major Jack L. Barker, pilot, Sgt. William E. Dillender, crewchief; and PFC John J. Chubb, door gunner, comprised the crew of a Huey helicopter participating in a flight of aircraft on an emergency extraction mission for ARVN troops who were trapped by a communist force of unknown size. Their destination was deep within Oscar Eight approximately 10 miles southwest of the Lao/Vietnamese border, 12 miles south-southwest of Tchepone and 8 miles northeast of Ban Taling, Savannakhet Province, Laos.

As the Huey descended toward the landing zone (LZ), it came under heavy and accurate enemy ground fire. Other flight members watched in horror as they observed it being struck by ground fire, begin spinning, then explode and catch fire. The Huey then broke up in mid-air before crashing to the ground. No survivors were seen and no subsequent search for the downed aircrew was possible due to the heavy enemy presence in the area of the crash site. The remaining aircraft successfully extracted the ARVN ground team without further loss of aircraft. At the time the extraction mission was completed, Capt. Dugan, Major Barker, Sgt. Dillender and PFC Chubb were immediately reported as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

Jack Barker, John Chubb, William Dillender and John Dugan are 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 that ended the War in Vietnam since Laos was not a party to that agreement.

While the fate of Maj. Barker, Capt. Dugan, Sgt. Dillender and PFC Chubb is not in doubt, they have a right to have their remains returned to their families, friends and country. Above all else, they have the right not to be forgotten by the nation for which they gave their lives.

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.

Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fly in many dangerous circumstances, 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.