BAILEY, JAMES WILLIAM
Name: James William Bailey Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Fighter Squadron 143, USS CONSTELLATION Date of Birth: 19 January 1943 Home City of Record: Kosciusko MS Date of Loss: 28 June 1967 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 203300N 1060400E (XH111725) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B Missions: 183 Other Personnel in Incident: William P. Lawrence (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK with information from Donald Chapman. 2013
REMARKS: 730218 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS CONSTELLATION provided air power to the U.S. effort in Vietnam early in the war, having participated in strikes against Loc Chao and Hon Gai in North Vietnam during August 1964. One of the first American POWs of the war, and certainly one of the most well-known, LTJG Everett Alverez, launched from her decks and was captured during this series of strikes in 1964. The CONSTELLATION was large and carried a full range of aircraft. Fighters from her air wing, CVW-14, earned the carrier the Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1968 during a particularly intense period of air attacks. VF-96, a premier fighter squadron awarded the Clifton Trophy two straight years, flew from the CONSTELLATION in October 1971. During this period, two of her pilots, LT Randall H. Cunningham and LTJG William "Willie" Driscoll became the first American aces of the Vietnam War, having shot down five Russian-made MiG enemy aircraft. The CONSTELLATION remained on station throughout most of the war.
One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the CONSTELLATION was the F4 Phantom. The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2), and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. The F4 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.
CDR William P. "Bill" Lawrence was the commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143 onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. On 28 June 1967, Lawrence and his backseater, LTJG James W. Bailey, flew a mission over Nam Dinh, North Vietnam in their F4B Phantom. The aircraft was hit by enemy fire and the crew was forced to eject. Bailey's wingman, Donald R. Chapman saw him get shot down. Both Lawrence and Bailey were captured by the North Vietnamese.
It was not yet known that POWs were being tortured in captivity in Vietnam, but Lawrence was to endure five consecutive days of misery in the hands of his captors. By the time Lawrence and Bailey reached Hanoi, other POW officers were devising their own code of conduct that specifically applied to the problems they encountered as prisoners of war.
For the next six years, Lawrence and Bailey were held prisoner in the Hanoi prison system. Finally, on February 18, 1973, Bailey was released, and on March 4 Lawrence was released. The two were among 591 Americans that were released in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
James W. Bailey was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant during his captivity. William P. Lawrence remained in the Navy and attained the rank of Vice Admiral.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
JAMES W. BAILEY Lieutenant - United States Navy Shot Down: June 28, 1967 Released: February 18, 1973
I was born 19 January 1943 in Kosciusko Mississippi. I am a bachelor. My parents are James Carl Bailey (deceased) and Marguerite Johnson Bailey. I have one sister Rita Karleen Watson who is married to my CACO.
I attended Holmes Junior College with the help of a basketball scholarship. I went to the University of Southern Mississippi; the Naval Cadet Program in January 1964 and VF-143 in April 1965 as a Radar Intercept Officer. I flew from USS Ranger in 1965 and 1966 and USS Constellation in 1967. I was shot down on June 28 1967.
I plan to re-enter college at the University of Mississippi this fall and major in history under the Navy College Degree Program
I think that my basic faith and trust in the system of government of the United States of America was the factor which gave me the courage to go on and face each day as it came. I felt that I had undertaken a tremendous responsibility when I took the oath and accepted my commission as a United States Naval Officer. I felt proud to uphold this responsibility.
James Bailey retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He and his wife Suzanne reside in South Carolina, where he is a school administrator.
--------------- Johnstonian Sun Selma, NC 1973
It is a very Small world
Another silver POW bracelet has turned up -- the property of Beth Gandy, eleven-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gandy of Selma. She received the ornament for Christmas.....
--------------------- NOTE: Beth is alive and well in 1999, wishing "her" POW a long, healthy life.
More info: http://tinyurl.com/bqvfthe