HESTAND, JAMES HARDY
Name: James Hardy Hestand
Rank/Branch: W1/US Army
Unit:
Date of Birth: (ca 1950)
Home City of Record: Oklahoma City OK
Date of Loss: 17 March 1971
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 121005N 1062140E (XU480455)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H
Refno: 1727
Other Personnel in Incident: On UH1H: Richard L. Bauman; Craig M. Dix;
Bobby G. Harris (all missing); From AH1G: Capt. David P. Schweitzer
(rescued); 1Lt. Lawrence E. Lilly (missing).
REMARKS: 730212 RELEASED BY PRG
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.
SYNOPSIS: On March 17, 1971, Capt. David P. Schweitzer, pilot and 1Lt. Lawrence
E. Lilly, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an AH1G helicopter (serial #69-17935)
conducting a visual reconnaissance mission. As the aircraft was near a landing
zone at grid coordinates XU488458, it was hit by enemy fire of the F-21B
Infantry Regiment, 5th Viet Cong Division and forced to the ground. The LZ was
deep inside Cambodia in the Snuol District of Kracheh (Kratie) Province, near
Seang Village.
Rescue efforts were successful in extracting Capt. Schweitzer, but due to heavy
enemy fire, they were forced to leave the area before Lilly could be extracted.
Lt. Lilly was last seen by U.S. personnel lying on his back wth his shirt
partially open and blood on his chest and neck. He was observed being fired
upon by Viet Cong forces.
In mid-April 1971, a report described two U.S. personnel onboard a helicopter
shot down in this region getting out of the helicopter and climbing a tree, and
firing upon enemy forces. One of the crewmen was shot to death, and the other
was captured by Viet Cong soldiers of the 6th Company, 2nd Battalion, F21B
Infantry Regiment. The report continued that both crewmen were caucasian and
had light complexions. The source described the POW and said that he was later
told that the dead airman had been cremated by Cambodian villagers who had come
to salvage parts from the aircraft. Joint Casualty Resolution Center (JCRC)
evaluated the report and concluded that it could possibly relate either to
Lilly's incident or another the same day at the same location.
The other incident related to a UH1H helicopter flown by WO1 James H. Hestand
and carrying CW2 Richard L. Bauman; SP4 Craig M. Dix; and SP4 Bobby G. Harris.
The aircraft was shot down near Snuol. A medivac chopper lowered a jungle
penetrator to men seen on the ground through triple canopy jungle, but was
forced to leave the area due to enemy fire and low fuel.
Five ARVN were captured in the same operation and were told by Viet Cong guards
that three chopper crew members had just been captured. One was killed in the
crash, one was shot in the leg (ankle) trying to escape. The wounded crewmember
and two others were finally captured.
James Hestand was captured and was released in 1973. In his debriefing, he
reported that Craig Dix was the one who had been shot in the upper right ankle.
Hestand stated that Dix was ambulatory and evading capture at the time of his
own capture. Hestand also stated that, when last seen, CW2 Bauman was alive, in
good condition, and was hiding with Dix. Hestand said that he had seen the body
of Harris, whom he believed to be dead because of throat lacerations and a
discoloration of his body. Harris had been thrown from the aircraft. Hestand
was separated from the others when he was captured, and had no further
information on Dix, Bauman or Harris. Defense Department notes indicate that
Harris was killed in the crash. Defense Department notes indicate that some
intelligence say that Bauman, Dix and Harris are dead, yet other intelligence
reports placed Dix in a Cambodian hospital after having been captured, and
according to Hestand, the two were alive and well the last time he saw them.
An ARVN ground unit entered the battle area to try to rescue Lilly, but found
him dead. The unit came under heavy fire, and in the course of the battle, the
body was lost to the enemy. Lilly's remains were never recovered.
In 1988, the Cambodian government announced that it had the remains of a number
of American servicemen it wished to return to the United States. The U.S. did
not respond officially, however, because there are no diplomatic ties between
Cambodia and the U.S. Several U.S. Congressmen have attempted to intervene and
recover the remains on behalf of American family members, but Cambodia wishes
an official overture. Meanwhile, the bodies of Americans remain in the hands of
our former enemy.
Even more tragically, evidence mounts that many Americans are still alive in
Southeast Asia, still prisoners from a war many have long forgotten. It is a
matter of pride in the armed forces that one's comrades are never left behind.
One can imagine any of the men lost in Cambodia on March 17, 1971, being
willing to go on one more mission for the freedom of those heroes we left
behind.
 
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 H. HESTAND
CWO - United States Army
Captured: March 17, 1971
Released : February 12, 1973
I'm James Hardy Hestand, the first born in an average American family in
Oklahoma City. I have a younger brother and sister. When I was nine years old
my father died. My mother raised the three of us by herself.
After graduating from high school I was undecided as to my future, so I joined
the Army. Upon finishing helicopter training I was off to Vietnam in July
1970. Up until March 17, 1971 I was James Hardy Hestand, pilot, "one of the
men the enemy could never get." Then the bullets started hitting my plane, not
someone else's. Down I went.
For the next two years I was "Ni" (my Vietnamese name since they could not say
James Hestand), and my cage buddy was "Da" (short for Danny). For these two
years it was Da, Ni, Emde! (Vietnamese for shut-up.) We had to whisper and
talk low or be punished severely by the "Cong." One end of a six foot chain
was attached to my ankle and the other end to a log of a wooden cage, tiger
pit, or a dark bunker. It never came off 24 hours a day.
I am still haunted by dreams of deadly foot long centipedes and scorpions, six
foot cobras, bamboo vipers, and spiders as big as a man's stretched-out hand.
These creatures were ever constant "visitors" leaving tracks through my cage.
Each morning when I awoke I wondered why I was still alive and how long I
would survive. The B-52 raids and the steady diet of fish scraps with rice and
muddy water made me feel I would never return . . . add to that the fact that
my captors did not care whether we lived or died by refusing medical
attention; and it was a wonder we kept our spirits and hopes of survival
alive.
During those long and endless days we pooled our strength and courage into one
force, determined to survive this seemingly endless nightmare of pain,
suffering, torment, and fear.
The most wonderful day of my life was when I walked out of the dark jungles of
Cambodia on February 12, 1973, into the waiting arms of Freedom. Although my
hopes were shaken and shattered many times, I knew that my prayers would
someday be answered. When I stepped off the plane at Clark Air Force Base in
the Philippines, I knew my prayers had finally come true. My greatest desire
is that someday all of the remaining POWs and MIAs will come home again.

Mr. Hestand left Germany after working for the Department of Defense and has
made his home in Oklahoma.
 
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