Name: Paul Lloyd Milius
Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy
Unit: Observation Squadron 67, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Date of Birth: 11 February 1928
Home City of Record: Waverly IA
Date of Loss: 27 February 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 170500N 1060300E (XD116889)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OP2E
Other Personnel in Incident: John F. Hartzheim (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project October 15, 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
POW/MIA Background by 

SYNOPSIS: The Lockheed P2 "Neptune" was originally designed for submarine
searching, using magnetic detection gear or acoustic buoys. Besides flying
maritime reconnaissance, the aircraft served as an experimental night attack
craft in the attempt to interdict the movement of enemy truck convoys.
Another model, the OP2E, dropped electronic sensors to detect truck movements along
the supply route through Laos known as the "Ho Chi Minh Trail."

The Ho Chi Minh Trail was used by the North Vietnamese for transporting
weapons, supplies and troops. Hundreds of American pilots were shot down trying to
stop this communist traffic to South Vietnam. Fortunately, search and rescue
teams in Vietnam were extremely successful and the recovery rate was high.

Still there were nearly 600 who were not rescued. Many of them went down
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the passes through the border mountains between
Laos and Vietnam. Many were alive on the ground and in radio contact with search
and rescue and other planes; some were known to have been captured. Hanoi's
communist allies in Laos, the Pathet Lao, publicly spoke of American
prisoners they held, but when peace agreements were negotiated, Laos was not included,
and not a single American was released that had been held in Laos.

On February 27, 1968, Navy Capt. Paul L. Milius departed his base at Nakhon
Phanom, Thailand (NKP) in an OP2E Neptune on an armed reconnaissance mission
over Laos. Aboard were eight crew members assigned to Observation Squadron
67, plus Milius, the pilot.

The Neptune had precise navigational equipment and accurate optical
bombsight.  Radar was housed in a well on the nose underside of the aircraft, and radar
technicians felt especially vulnerable working in this "glass bubble" nosed
aircraft. It was believed that the aircraft could place the seismic or
acoustic device within a few yards of the desired point, but to do this, the OP2E had
to fly low and level, making it an easy target for the enemy's anti-aircraft
guns that were increasing in number along the Trail.

Milius was over his assigned target in Khammouane Province, Laos, about 15
miles southwest of the Ban Karai Pass, and was delivering ordnance on the target
when the aircraft was struck by suspected anti-aircraft artillery. A projectile
struck the underside of the aircraft and exploded in the radar well. Petty
Officer John F. Hartzheim, an Avionics Technician assigned to the aircraft,
was struck by fragments of the projectile and began bleeding profusely. The
radar well burst into flames, filling the flight deck area of the aircraft with
dense, acrid smoke.

The aircraft commander ordered the crew to bail out. Hartzheim was carried
to the after station by the Tactical Coordinator. Upon arriving in the after
station, Hartzheim stated that he could not go any farther, and collapsed.
Other crew members later stated they believed Hartzheim died at this time, as his
eyes were wide open and rolled to an upwards position and there was no movement.
Milius was at this time still seated at the controls of the aircraft.

Seven crewmembers safely exited the aircraft, and were subsequently rescued
by Search and Rescue forces. The area of the crashed aircraft was observed, and
it was felt that no identifiable remains would be found. Hartzheim was not
believed to exit the aircraft, and was believed to be dead. He was listed Killed,
Body Not Recovered. It cannot be determined whether the enemy had knowledge of
his ultimate fate.

The pilot, Paul Milius was not rescued. The Bombardier/Third Pilot, who was
rescued, indicated that Milius was sitting at the after-station hatch and
bailed out just prior to his own departure to the aircraft, but SAR efforts had
failed to located and rescue him. Milius was listed Missing in Action.

The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded Milius' classification to
include an enemy knowledge ranking of 2. Category 2 indicates "suspect
knowledge" and includes personnel who may have been lost in areas or under
conditions that they may reasonably be expected to be known by the enemy.

The family of John Hartzheim has little doubt that he died the day his
aircraft went down. They can take pride in his service, although they have to grave
to visit. For the Milius family, as well as thousands of others, however,
solutions are not so easy. Were it not for the thousands of reports concerning
Americans still held captive in Southeast Asia, these families might be able to close
this tragic chapter of their lives. But as long as Americans are alive, being
held captive, one of them could be Paul Milius. It's time we brought these men


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