SOUDER, JAMES BURTON
Name: James Burton Souder Rank/Branch: United States Navy/O4 Unit: VF-51 Date of Birth: 10 September 1940 Elizabethton TN Home City of Record: Ft Lauderdale FL Date of Loss: 27 April 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 195700 North 1052500 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4B #153025 Missions: 335 - spening 335 days "in jail" Other Personnel in Incident: Lt. Al Molinare returnee Refno: 1838
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. Updated 2002.
REMARKS: 730328 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).
JAMES B. SOUDER Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy Shot Down: April 27, 1972 Released: March 28, 1973
Born in Elizabethton, Tennessee on 10 September 1940. Moved to Florida in 1953. Present home is Ft. Lauderdale. Graduated from Ft. Lauderdale High School in 1958. Was member of the 1958 AllAmerican High School Swimming Team. Attended the University of Florida and graduated from Florida State University, Class of 1962. Entered the US Navy in January 1963 and commenced flight training after commissioning in May 1963. Received Naval Flight Officer wings in July 1965. Commenced training in the F-4 in September 1965 and was assigned to VF-143 in March 1966. Completed two cruises with VF-143 and went to Naval Air Training Command as an Instructor in the Radar Intercept Officer Course. After one year as an Instructor I went to inactive duty for a period of one and a half years and flew as a civilian pilot. Returned to active duty in July 1970. After refresher training in the F-4, assigned to VF-51. Deployed aboard Coral Sea in November 1971 and shot down on 27 April 1972 on 325th mission - Jim served one day in prison for every mission he flew -- 325 days.
Message: The happiest day of my life-was when we got on that big beautiful Air Force C-141 Medevac and took off from Hanoi. Although the forty of us released that day were all "new guys" to the Hanoi Hilton, we were still almost overcome with having attained our freedom. I think we all had one particular feeling and I think for the first time, experiencing the emotions which we felt that day, we could finally realize that the "old guys" were free. The "old guys" - those are the gallant men who have served their country as none other before them have served.
The greatest inspiration I experienced in Hanoi came to me my first day there. I was extremely tired, hungry, thirsty and aching all over from that long truck trip north. The interrogators had begun their work. I looked to myself for strength but found I had little to offer. I wondered how I would sustain myself during the long months and possibly years ahead. Then the thought came to me, "You are in the presence of the greatest men in the world." I thought of Captain Bill Lawrence, under whom I'd served in 1967, and Captain Jim Stockdale and Jerry Denton and Colonel Robbie Reisner and the many others who had endured the pain and hardships of POW life for so long. Then my job became a very easy one compared to theirs. I never lost sight of that fact and it sustained me throughout.
James Souder retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He lives in Florida is enjoying retirement.