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Name: CPT David Lindford Nelson
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 03/05/1971 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 27.3
Date of Birth: 11/10/1943
Home City: Kirkland, WA
Service: AR branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: C/158 AVN 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Flight class: 67-17
Service: AR branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 04W-025
Short Summary: Shot down in Laos. hit in fuel cell, exploded about 2000 ft above the ground. no survivors. see memo, WO1 moreira, & refno 1717
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 67-17341
Call sign: AUCTION 16
Service number: O5442243
Country: Laos
MOS: 1981 = 19 Rotary Wing Aviator (Unit Commander)
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: aircraft commander
Vehicle ownership: government
Started Tour: 09/01/1970
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
The initial status of this person was: missing in action - interim
Military grid coordinates of event: XD346408

Additional information about this casualty:
 On April 19 and 20, 1988 in Washington, D. C., John W. Parsels (POW from 5 Feb 70 to 27 Mar 73) talked to a Laotian refugee. He is in the U. S. on a green card, and was a POW in Laos until 1984. He claims that two Americans were held as POWS with him in Northern Laos in 1978. One was Cpt. David Nelson, missing March 5, 1971 over Laos. Nelson was an Army helicopter pilot. The other was Navy Lieutenant (03) Stanley Smiley, also a Pilot, missing over Laos, July 20, 1969. Somdy, (the refugee) says that these two men came to his camp in 1978. David got sick with a stomach ailment and Somdy was told to take care of him. He was not allowed to speak, but cut David's hair, cleaned him up and fed him for the last days of his life. David died in May, 1978, seven years after being captured and five years after 590 other American POWS came home. Somdy learned David's name after David died. He found his name in David's knapsack, along with a picture of him by his helicopter. The guards threw the picture away, but Somdy was able to retrieve it and eventually gave it to officials in a Thai refugee camp. Parsels is absolutely convinced Somdy is telling the truth. NBC news did an interview with Somdy and asked Somdy to identify David from over twenty various pictures. After about five minutes he picked out a picture of David from his high school days. NBC is convinced he is telling the truth. From a letter dated June 1988 from: Major John W. Parsels AUSA-ret. Cheif Executive Officer NATIONAL FORGET-ME-NOT ASSOC. P.O. BOX 14489 Bradenton, FL 34280 Don Davis was an eye witness of the explosion and crash. He says that there is no way anyone survived the crash. He is aware of the above and does not believe that it is true. In Jan 1990, a joint U.S.-Lao excavation recovered remains later identified as the Phoenix 16 (Auction 16 for this combat assualt) crew. All four crewmen were interred at Arlington in a common casket with full military honors Oct 5, 1990. Don Davis reported by phone 15 Dec 91 that he talked with family members after the funeral for the remains at Arlington.

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - died while missing
single male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Lutheran (Missouri Synod)
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: officer
This record was last updated on 08/20/1995

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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