LATHAM, JAMES

Name: James Latham
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Air Force, pilot
Unit: 435th TFS
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Missions Hills KS
Date of Loss: 05 October 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 171200 North  1065000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Missions: 378
Other Personnel in Incident: Richard Bates

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.

REMARKS: 730329 RELEASED BY DRV

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 M. LATHAM
Captain - United  States Air Force
Shot Down: October 5, 1972
Released: March 29, 1973
 
I have lived most of my 26 years in the Kansas City area in the suburb of
Mission Hills. My father is an M.D., practicing pediatrics, while my mother
raised  two other children besides myself A younger brother Dennet, now
attending Kansas University as a graduate student in architecture, and a
sister Janice, married recently to a Navy man, completing my family.

I attended Kansas State University  where I graduated  in 1969 with a degree
in psychology. I was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and lettered
three years on the K-State swimming team. Four years of participation  in
the ROTC produced a commission in the U.S. Air Force after graduation and
started my career as a military officer.

I attended Pilot Training at Vance AFB, after  which I received a Southeast
Asia assignment in the OV10. Between August 1970 and August 1971 I was
stationed  at Nakon Phanon Royal Thai AFB and worked as a NAIL FAC (Forward
Air Controller). Following this tour I received an assignment to the F-4.
After my training in Florida, I returned to Thailand, this time to the
WOLFPACK - 8th TAC Fighter Wing at Ubon.

After my training in the F-4  I was married to Sue Beach of Piercevile,
Kansas, whom I had been dating since our days at K-State  three years before
We were married May 13th and two weeks later I left  for  Southeast  Asia.

While  flying  out of Ubon I began working as a WOLF FAC FAST Forward Air
Controller. On 5 October 1972, while operating near Dong Hoi City in the
lower panhandle of North Vietnam, Navigator Lt. Richard (Crunch) Bates and I
were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery.

We ejected safely from the aircraft and were captured immediately. The next
five weeks we were kept separately in various bunkers and finally  joined  for
a long truck ride to Hanoi which lasted three weeks. When finally put in with
other Americans, I spent time in the Hilton and the Zoo until released on
March 29.

During my brief period as a POW many things became apparent to me. But the one
that really  made an impression  on me was the value of Freedom.  I'm afraid
people will never know how valuable freedom is until they have to live
without it. After being held prisoner for four weeks in lower North
Vietnam, the frustrations  of captivity  really  got to me and I attempted to
escape. Although I was free for  only six or seven hours and the punishment
received  upon recapture was brutal I became aware for  the first time why
men were willing to give their lives to be free.

======================
James Latham retired from the United States Air Force as a Brig General. He
and his wife Carol Sue reside in Virginia.

======================
MORE INFO