Tilden Stewart Holley
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War
Service No.: 426584519
Born: 4 Jun 1935
Died: 20 Jan 1968 (probable date of death)
Declared Dead: 7 Jun 1978
Age at time of loss: 32 years, 7 months, 16 days
Home of Record: Cameron, Texas
Marital Status: Single
Overseas Duty: Unknown
Unit: 389th Tactical Fighter Squadron, DaNang Air Base, South Vietnam
Type of Airplane: McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II Jet
Missing-in-Action (MIA): 20 Jan 1968
Other Personnel in Incident: 1LT James A. Ketterer (MIA)
Casualty Type: (A3) Hostile, died while missing
Cause of Death: air loss (crashed on land, pilot - fixed wing)
Casualty Location: 17?40' N x 106?29' E (map coordinates: XE 573537)
Burial: Body Not Recovered
Milam County War Memorial:
The Vietnam Wall, Washington, DC: Panel 34E - Row 087
Circumstances of Loss
LTC Holley was the aircraft commander of an F-4C aircraft flying in a flight of two on a night armed reconnaissance mission when he was reported missing-in-action. Flight members observed an orange streak of light through the clouds while the aircraft was making passes over the target. A brief beeper was heard after the light was observed, but no radio transmission were received and no parachutes were seen. LTC Holley was continued in a missing status until 7 Jun 1978 when his status was administratively changed by the Dept. of the Air Force to killed-in-action. Since his remains have not been recovered and returned, he is listed by the Dept. of Defense as unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.
The following was compiled by Homecoming II Project 1 Apr 1990 by Operation Just Cause with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
REMARKS: Ejected; killed in shoot-out
SYNOPSIS: The F-4 Phantom jet, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The 2-man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long-range (900 to 2,300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F-4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.
CPT Holley was the pilot of an F-4C in a flight of two aircraft dispatched from Da Nang, South Vietnam on a night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. An armed reconnaissance mission's purpose was to seek out enemy targets and strike them. CPT Holley's backseater on the mission was 1LT James A. Ketterer, whose responsibility was to operate the bombing equipment and other technical equipment onboard the aircraft.
While striking a target near the city of Quang Khe, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam, flight members observed an orange streak of light through the clouds while CPT Holley's aircraft was making passes over the target. A brief beeper was heard after the light was seen , but no radio transmissions were received and no parachutes were observed. Evidently, the aircraft had been hit by enemy fire.
Even though the Air Force states that no parachutes were seen, and no emergency radio beepers were heard, subsequent information is included in the Defense Department raw data which may reveal the fates of CPT Holley and 1LT Ketterer. The DIA notation on CPT Holley's incident indicates that he successfully ejected from the aircraft, but was killed in a shoot-out with enemy troops in the area. 1LT Ketterer's DIA remarks simply state he is dead, and list the report code numbers.
Because these men were not found presumptively dead until 1978, it must be concluded that the DIA reports relating to the two were not confirmed. If they had been confirmed reports, these two men would have had timely status changes to "Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered." There is an extremely remote possibility, therefore, that the two did not die at the point they reached the ground.