MARVIN B. C. WILES, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Marvin Wiles '66

Date of birth: December 10, 1943

Date of death: May 6, 1972

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1966 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From POW Network:

LT Marvin B.C. Wiles was a Corsair pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 22 onboard the CORAL SEA. On May 6, 1972, Wiles and his Air Wing Commander, CDR Roger "Binkie" Sheets, launched in their A7E aircraft on a day armed reconnaissance mission. (Armed reconnaissance meant search for targets and destroy them, primarily truck convoys and the like, on this sort of general mission.)

Wiles and Sheets crossed the coast of North Vietnam just south of Vinh, a common navigation point, and they saw a surface-to-air missile (SAM) lift-off about ten miles to the left. Sheets radioed, "Okay Marv, do you have the lift-off?" and Wiles responded, "I got it." Sheets said, "Arm your bombs and let's go get 'em" making the decision to bomb the SAM site rather than conduct reconnaissance as planned. Wiles took up a standard formation of about 3,000 to 4,000 feet away from Sheets.

The smoke had drifted away from the SAM site, so Sheets planned to go in as fast as possible, confirm the site, pop up and go bomb it. In the meantime, another aircraft - an "Iron Hand" SAM strike mission aircraft - in the area had picked up the SAM launch signal and was monitoring the site as well. Sheets flew over the site, confirmed it, rolled in, and bombed. As he was pulling off, some three thousand feet off the ground, he rolled over to wait for the bombs to hit. Before they struck, he saw a complete peppering of the whole area, followed about two seconds later by his string of bombs that went right across the upper half of the circular site.

What had happened was that the Iron Hand had launched a SHRIKE missile that effectively covered the entire site. It had hit the radar van perfectly and spread over the area, followed by Sheets' bombs. Sheets pulled off to the left and came back to the right and heard SAM signals again. He radioed Wiles to see if he was in on the target. When Sheets looked back, he saw an airplane going into the ground. Wiles had been hit by a SAM from another site which Sheets had picked up on his scope but had not yet seen visually.

Shortly thereafter, Sheets saw Wiles' parachute and he followed it down right into a village a few miles from the city of Quang Khe and about 14 miles northwest of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Wiles landed right in the middle of the village. Sheets began to receive ground fire and was forced to leave the area. The Air Wing Commander never saw Wiles again.

The Navy assumed Wiles had been captured, and in June 1972, notified his family that he had been captured. For the next months, they awaited his release. When 591 Americans were released at the end of the war in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973, Marvin Wiles was not among them. Although he landed uninjured in the middle of a village, the Vietnamese deny any knowledge of him. Subsequent information received by the U.S. revealed that Wiles was killed in the village while resisting capture, almost immediately after he landed.

Family

Marvin was survived by his wife, Donna Wiles, son, Marvin Benjamin Christopher Wiles (b. 9/18/66).

Related Articles

Larry Chmiel '66 and William Miller, Jr. '66 were also in 32nd Company.


Class of 1966

Marvin is one of 36 members of the Class of 1966 in Memorial Hall.