WILEY THOMAS J
Name: 1LT Thomas J. Wiley
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 05/13/1972 while performing the duty of Aircraft Commander.
Age at death: 25.0
Date of Birth: 05/18/1947
Home City: Monroe, LA
Service: IN branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: 196 BDE 23 INF
Major organization: 196th Light Infantry Brigade
Flight class: 71-18
Service: IN branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 01W-025
Short Summary: Shot in head while checking to insure targets were NVA. Flying C&C ship for LTC Fredrick Mitchell.
Country: South Vietnam
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: 08/07/1971
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
The initial status of this person was: no previous report
Length of service: *
Location: Thua Thien Province I Corps.
Military grid coordinates of event: YD894068
Additional information about this casualty:
WILEY Thomas J newspaper article from Monroe News Star Newspaper Archives
Thursday, November 09, 1972 - Page 16
BUDDIES OFFER A SALUTE TO SLAIN CHOPPER PILOT
(Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from "Stars and Stripes", which is printed in Tokyo for the Pacific area. It is repeated here as a tribute not only to Monroe's Lt. Thomas J Wiley, who was killed in action in South Vietnam May 13, but to the many from throughout the nation who have been so honored by their fellow men. The story and the pictures are by Donald A. Davis, United Press International staffer who earlier this year was assigned to the war in South Vietnam. Originals of both the story and pictures were supplied to Lt. Wiley's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Willard Wiley, 29 Paige Dr., Monroe, and to his widow, Mrs. Sanda Ward Wiley. The parents in turn, granted permission for the News - Star for publication.
Col. Mitchell, Wiley's commander, when en route to Washington from Vietnam, stopped in Monroe to visit the family. He is now stationed at the Pentagon.)
PHU BAI, Vietnam (UPI) _ His buddies said goodbye to the young helicopter pilot killed in one of those tiny battles that prove Americans are still fighting in Vietnam.
The American flag snapped in the breeze. The mixed sounds of a helicopter taking off and the sad notes of "Taps" drifted over the U. S. compound.
"This ceremony is held in the memory of 1st Lt, Thomas J Wiley, 196th Aviation Platoon," read a note on the small mimeographed program of the memorial ceremony. "Lt. Wiley gave his life in the service of his country and its allies."
Wiley died when he swooped his helicopter down to make sure some people on the ground were not friendly troops. Such a maneuver is demanded before U. S. forces can fire. One of the North Vietnamese soldiers shot Wiley through the head. "He was a professional who performed his mission with courage and skill'" the memoriam program read.
Wiley was the pilot of the command helicopter of Lt. Col. Frederick H. Mitchell, commander of the 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. 196th Inf. Brigade. Mitchell stood tense and tight-lipped at the left edge of a half- Lt. Thomas J. Wiley circle of Wiley's friends attending the twilight ceremony.
"Respected by his peers and held in the highest esteem by all who knew him, Lt. Wiley was a pilot in the highest tradition of Army aviation," the one-paragraph summary read.
Army Chaplain Capt. Lee King stood under the waving flag. Behind him was a unit insignia platform where Wiley's green aviator's helmet - the eyeshade drawn - lay beside the dead man's polished black boots. Trucks and motorcycles sped down nearby Highway 1 as King said the Lord's Prayer and gave a short personal talk.
He said Wiley died "an honorable death in defense of his country and his country's allies." The chaplain said the men who knew Wiley must "resolve that this man did not die in vain."
A black puppy with a broken hind leg in a splint frolicked between the two groups of somber U. S. soldiers standing at parade rest in the twilight. "His loss will not only be felt by his family, but by the entire command," the program said.
Mitchell stood erect and in a terse voice addressed his men concerning the death of his friend and pilot. "You men are a generation of young Americans," the crew-cut colonel said. "You are a generation that has had its courage and character doubted. You and Thom Wiley have disproved this." Mitchell said Wiley "knew his job was important. Anytime, day or night even if he was at chow, _ if he got the call, he picked up and went. He knew the risks and he took them without balking." He said Wiley would want the men of the 196th, the northernmost American combat units in Vietnam "to go back home and tell it like it is here."
The colonel, who 30 minutes earlier was briefing a general on his unit's status, called the men to attention. He spun on his heel to face the flag, bushed away a tear and ordered the hand salute.
PFC Ralph Irwin, 20, put the silver trumpet up to his lips and played the mournful 24 notes of Taps.
Mitchell turned back, put the men at ease and walked slowly to his office.
Mitchell was crying.
The Monroe News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, 09 Nov 1972, Thu • Page 7
Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed
married male U.S. citizen
Religion: Church of God
Burial information: MULHEARN MEMORIAL PARK CEMETERY, MONROE, LA
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 03/05/2020
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