CHAMPION, JAMES ALBERT Name: James Albert Champion Rank/Branch: E3/US Army Unit: Company L (Ranger), 75th Infantry Regiment, assigned to 101st Airborne Division Date of Birth: 16 November 1949 Home City of Record: Houston TX Date of Loss: April 24, 1971 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 161155N 1071930E (YC484923) Status (in 1973): Missing In Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 1742 Other Personnel In Incident: Issako Malo (released POW); Marvin Duren (rescued); John Sly (killed); (one other team member, the medic, rescued); CWO Fred Behrens (from one of the helicopters, rescued) Source: Compiled 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 in 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: James A. Champion was a member of a six-man radio relay Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol being inserted for operation in a saddle at coordinates YC483923, Republic of on Vietnam April 23, 1971. After receiving intense ground fire from their primary landing zone on the west side of the A Shau Valley, the team was inserted into their alternate LZ. Taking the point, Team Leader Marvin Duren was severely wounded by automatic weapons fire, grenade and rifle fire, and was evacuated. His ATL, John Sly, was killed in action in a heroic attempt with the team medic to drag Duren out of the line of enemy fire. CWO Fred Behrens, the MEDEVAC "Dustoff" pilot, was a volunteer, having flown the mission because he felt his chances of succeeding in this hot LZ would be higher than other, newer pilots, but he was shot down during his second attempt to extract Sly from the LZ and found himself on the ground with the team. Several other helicopters with reinforcements were shot down by intense ground fire and Aero Rifle Platoon reinforcements were forced to withdraw and regroup due to heavy fire from the NVA. During the three day battle that began at 1500 hours on April 23, Rangers Champion and Issako Malo left the team's defensive perimeter to seek water. Behrens heard shots, and the two Rangers never returned. PFC Isaako F. Malo, was last seen at about 1600 hours on April 24. Champion was last seen on the morning of 25 April when he left the site of one of the downed helicopters to look for water. From April 25 through April 30, ground and aerial searches were made for Champion without success. Isaako Malo was confirmed captured, and after his release from captivity, he stated that he was captured on the morning of April 25, and at no time did he see PFC Champion in captivity. A reaction force from L/75 Rangers was inserted into the area and successfully drove the NVA elements away from the Ranger Team's position, and survivors were evacuated. No one ever told the six-man team how large the enemy force was that they had been up against. However, it was a large enough force to warrant an Arclight strike by B-52 bombers. Evidence mounts that hundreds of Americans still missing in Southeast Asia are still alive, captive, waiting for their country to free them. James Champion may be one of them.