HACKETT, JAMES EDWARD Family accepts remains ID October 1999
Name: James Edward Hackett Rank/Branch: E4/US Army Unit: F Troop, 8th Cavalry, 11th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Battalion Date of Birth: 19 November 1952 (Attleboro MA) Home City of Record: Bradenton FL Date of Loss: 11 June 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 162336N 1072357E (YD562138) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: OH6A Refno: 1873
Other Personnel In Incident: Wayne Bibbs; Arnold E. Holm; Robin R. Yeakley (missing from one OH6A); James R. McQuade, Richard D. Wiley (missing from second OH6A).
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: EXPLODE - NO PARABEEPERS - J
SYNOPSIS: By December 1971, U.S. troops in-country had declined dramatically - from the 1968 peak of nearly 55,000 to less than 30,000. The enemy, temporarily on the defensive by the moves into Cambodia in 1970 and Laos in 1971, began deploying new NVA forces southward in preparation for another major offensive.
In March 1972, the Vietnamese launched a three-pronged invasion of the South. One NVA force swept south across the DMZ, its goal apparently the conquest of the northern provinces and the seizure of Hue. A second NVA force drove from Laos into the Central Highlands, and a third effort involved a drive from Cambodia into provinces northwest of Saigon.
Fierce fighting ensued on all three fronts, with NVA success the greatest in the northern provinces. Fighting continued until by June, the North Vietnamese began withdrawing from some of their advance positions, still holding considerable amounts of South Vietnamese territory in the northern provinces.
On June 11, 1972, Capt. Arnold Holm, pilot, PFC Wayne Bibbs, gunner, and SP4 Robin Yeakley, passenger, were aboard an OH6A observation helicopter flying from Camp Eagle to the Northern Provinces of South Vietnam on a visual reconnaissance mission. The function of their "Loach" chopper was searching out signs of the enemy around two landing zones (LZ's). The OH6 joined with the AH1G Cobra gunship as "Pink Teams" to screen the deployment of air cavalry troops. On this day, Holm's aircraft was monitoring an ARVN team insertion.
During the mission, Holm reported that he saw enemy living quarters, bunkers, and numerous trails. On his second pass over a ridge, at about 25' altitude, the aircraft exploded and burned. It was reported that before the aircraft crashed that smoke and white phosphorous grenades began exploding. After the aircraft impacted with the ground, it exploded again. Other aircraft in the area received heavy anti-aircraft fire. No one was seen to exit the downed helicopter, nor were emergency radio beepers detected.
In another OH6A (tail #67-16275), 1Lt. James R. McQuade, pilot, and SP4 James E. Hackett, gunner, tried to enter the area of the crashed OH6A, but encountered heavy fire and their aircraft was also shot down. McQuade's aircraft was hit, and the intensity of the resulting fire caused white phosphorous and smoke grenades carried aboard the aircraft to explode prior to hitting the ground. The aircraft continued to burn after impact and no crewmen left the ship before or after the crash.
No ground search was made for survivors or remains of either aircraft because of hostile fire in the area.
--------------------------- From - Thu Oct 21 16:21:40 1999
I'm writing a broadcast letter to bring as many people up to date on the status of two of our Vietnam War MIA's; 1LT James (Jimmy) R. McQuade and his scout observer SP4 James E. Hackett, both of F Troop, 8th Cavalry. While searching for possible survivors in the crash of scout platoon leader CPT Arnold (Dust) E. Holm and his two observers, Wayne Bibbs and Robin Yeakley, McQuade's OH-6A, tail number 67-16275, was shot down in the middle of a sizeable NVA force west of Hue on 11 June 1972, during the Easter Offensive. None of the bodies were recoverable at the time due to high intensity, concentrated enemy fire. Knowing it was unlikely any crewmembers had survived the two explosive crashes was little comfort to those of us who had to abandon them. But it was the only rational decision considering the overwhelming odds F/8 found on the battle field that day.
As many of you know, Jimmy's mom, Patty, and I were pen pals for many years, but never actually met until the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend this year. Along with Jimmy's surviving brothers Jack and Jeff and sister Judi, we had a wonderful time enjoying smoked salmon, salad and wine on a cool, sunny spring day. We promised to all get together again soon after. Sadly, Patty passed away unexpectedly a few weeks later, right after I returned from the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association annual reunion in Nashville. Wife Lynn and I joined the family at Patty's memorial in hometown Hoquiam, Washington; a small logging community on the Pacific coast. We took comfort knowing she had learned the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting office had tentatively identified Jimmy's remains in a recovery effort in Vietnam before she died. Jack and Judi had recently given blood samples to the Army for DNA analysis and we were waiting for the final results, but other hard evidence, such as the data plate from his aircraft and personal effects, indicated they had found her son.
Yesterday, Saturday October 16, Lynn and I were invited to Judi's lovely West Seattle house for another special occasion, when a representative from the Army's Mortuary Affairs office would present the official findings of the Central Identification Lab-Hawaii (CILHI) to the family. Like the gathering over Memorial Day, the day was perfect and the mood festive as we enjoyed good food and spirits waiting for the big news to arrive. Instead of a stiff military officer arriving in an OD sedan, we were surprised to see a civilian arrive in a rented coup dressed in a fine double-breasted suit. John was a bit stiff and formal at first, but was quickly put at ease with a plate of appetizers and glass of Reisling as the group made small talk on the deck outside the kitchen. After an hour or so it was time to convene around the fireplace in the living room to review the findings.
John produced a 1" spiral binder containing all information leading to McQuade and Hackett's final disposition. He apologized in advance for the heavy dose of technical lingo and acronyms, but was required to read several pages from the report verbatim. We listened intently as he described the DNA and dental comparisons and circumstantial evidence. It was soon evident that, twenty-eight years since their final heroic mission, both men's remains had been successfully recovered. Then John hesitated and reached into his brief case, pulling out a small plastic bag. He then presented Judi with Jimmy's St. Christopher medalion; the same she and her mom had presented him at graduation ceremonies at Ft. Rucker when Jimmy graduated from flight school. They'd ended up in New Orleans in a grand celebration before he departed for Vietnam. The personalized inscription on the back was unmistaken. We took it out of the bag and slowly passed it around for each to inspect. I was last and held it for moment, visualizing it as hung ever present around his neck. It had been next to his breast when the LOH exploded.
After a Q&A session, the family accepted the findings as official, thus ending more than a quarter century of mystery. Satisfied, Judi signed the forms on behalf the family. Then we all convened to the dining room for a wonderful dinner. Later, John informed us that Jimmy's gunner Hackett's family had also accepted the report, so funeral arrangements would be the next step. Of the hundred-plus bone fragments and teeth recovered, some were Jimmy's and some James' but some were co-mingled and will be buried at Arlington on a future date. The families must now decide on dates and locations where the identified remains will be put to rest. It will take a couple weeks to a month at least for the military to review the families findings and make it official, but that's just a formality John said. I will inform you all on dates/locations as soon as arrangements are made so you can plan to attend if possible.
Though this is not 'official' until reviewed by an official board to make sure all the i's and t's are dotted and crossed (about 3 more weeks), I wanted to give you all the good news now as it unfolds. So please raise a glass in a silent moment to a couple more heroes who are finally coming home!
My best, Mike Austin Blueghost 41/23 1971-2
Subj: Update on McQuade and Hackett's MIA Remains Date: 12/08/1999 10:59:08 PM Pacific Standard Time From: MAustin252
Folks, I got word from Judi McQuade yesterday that the Army has accepted the families findings and officially closed the case on former MIA's 1LT James R. McQuade and SP4 James E. Hackett of F Troop, 8th Cavalry, who were lost when their OH-6A scout helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission by the NVA June 11, 1972, west of Hue. McQuade received the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously) for his brave and selfless actions that day.
Regarding the funeral dates, both families have expressed a desire to dedicate their co-mingled loved ones at Arlington sometime in the spring, possibly April, to avoid the brutal winter conditions that can occur in D.C. Jan-Feb. Besides, apple blossom time is real nice there. Anyway, they are now working with the Army to find an appropriate date for the ceremony and I will pass it on once it is known. Jimmy McQuade's identified remains will be interred around the same time of year in his native Washington state and I will inform you of that date as well for those who can attend. I do not know about the private ceremony in California for James Hackett, but will try to find out.
Now that the Army has signed off, it means a cross will be now be etched next to their names on the Wall signifying that, after nearly 28 years, two more of our brothers have been recovered, so raise a glass in tribute to their honor and journey home!
Best regards, Mike Austin F/8 71-2
--------------------------------- No. 190-M MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS December 13, 1999
The remains of eleven American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States.
They are identified as U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Tim L. Walters, South Bend, Ind.; U.S. Army 1st Lt. James R. McQuade, Hoquiam, Wash.; U.S. Army Spc. James E. Hackett, Bradenton, Fla.; U.S. Air Force Col. George W. Jensen, Seattle, Wash.; U.S. Air Force Col. Marshall L. Tapp, Los Angeles, Calif.; U.S. Air Force Col. Lavern G. Reilly, St. Paul, Minn.; U.S. Air Force Maj. George W. Thompson, Beckley, W.Va.; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James A. Preston, Bowden, Ga.; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James E. Williams, Oxford, Miss.; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. William L. Madison, Lexington, Ky.; and U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth D. McKenney, Auburn, Mass.
On March 9, 1969, Walters was aboard a 0-2A Super Skymaster flying a forward air control mission over Laos. The aircraft crashed, due to an unknown cause. Other aircrews in the area reported seeing the aircraft shortly after impact. A ground party went to the site shortly after the crash and determined that both crewmembers were dead, but they could not recover the remains due to heavy enemy activity in the area.
Joint U.S.-Lao investigators visited several alleged crash sites in 1993, 1994 and 1998, and an excavation was conducted in January, February and March 1999, where a team recovered human remains, personal effects and crew-related items.
Hackett and McQuade were attempting to rescue the crew of a downed aircraft when their own OH-6A helicopter exploded in mid-air over South Vietnam on June 11, 1972. In 1993 and 1994, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams conducted investigations and an excavation where they recovered numerous human remains, pilot-related gear and personal effects.
On May 15, 1966, Jensen was piloting an AC-47D gunship on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. Also aboard the aircraft were Tapp, Thompson, Preston, Madison, McKenney, Williams, and Reilly. That evening, Jensen radioed to his airborne control aircraft that everything was normal on the mission, but the aircraft never returned to its home base. Joint U.S.-Lao investigative teams visited several sites in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 and conducted excavations where they recovered human remains an d crew-related items.
With the accounting of these servicemen, 2,032 are missing in action from the Vietnam War. Another 551 have been identified and returned to their families since the end of the war. Analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii confirmed the identification of these servicemen.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the governments of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic that resulted in the accounting of these servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the highest national priority.