Name: James Ervin Booth
Rank/Branch: O2/US Air Force
Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 29 December 1939 (Bethany MO)
Home City of Record: Roseville CA
Date of Loss: 23 June 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 175200N 1055500E (WE971755)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1213

Other Personnel In Incident: Donald F. Casey (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 June 1990 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.


SYNOPSIS: Jim Booth was the second of nine children born on a farm near
Bethany, Missouri. All his life, he knew that what he wanted to do was fly.
When he grew up, Booth worked for a while as an economic analyst for the
state of California; then he joined the Air Force and received
weapons/systems training onboard the F4 phantom fighter jet.

By mid-1968, the war in Vietnam was escalating, and Booth and other pilots
were called on to fly long hours over enemy targets. Having flown nightly
for two weeks, Booth should have been due some R & R, but instead,
volunteered to fly backseater for Col. Donald Casey on a night bombing
mission over North Vietnam.

Casey and Booth were to bomb a target in the mountains near the border of
North Vietnam and Laos in Quang Binh Province. Just as Casey's aircraft
rolled in to make a bombing run, the pilot of a nearby plane saw a large
fireball on the side of a mountain. No parachutes were observed, and no
emergency radio beeper signals were heard. Attempts to raise Booth and Casey
by radio were unsuccessful.

Information was later received that both Casey and Booth were dead. However,
since this information was not confirmed by separate sources, Casey and
Booth were maintained as Missing in Action. Other men lost in similar
circumstances had survived to be captured -- there was no proof that Casey
and Booth were dead.

Since the war ended in Vietnam, refugees have flooded the world, bringing
with them stories of Americans still held in Indochina. Many authorities,
having reviewed this largely classified information, now believe that
hundreds of American POWs are still alive, waiting for their country to come
for them.

Whether Casey and Booth actually survived the downing of their aircraft on
June 23, 1968 is unknown. Their families cannot be sure. Until the U.S.
insists on a full accounting of those missing, and more critically, the
return of those said to be still alive, Casey's and Booth's fates will
remain a mystery.



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On June 23, 1968, an F-4 Phantom II (tail number 66-8724, call sign "Machete 01") carrying two crew members took off as the lead aircraft in a flight of two on a night armed reconnaissance mission over the mountains of Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. After spotting a target, the Phantom's aircraft commander radioed his wingman that he was going to make a run on it. The wingman climbed overhead to observe the impact of the lead aircraft's bombs, but then observed a bright flash and fireball coming from a mountainside below. He saw no parachutes and detected no rescue beepers coming from the Phantom during or following the crash. He attempted to contact the Phantom's crew on the radio but was unsuccessful, and reported the crash before departing the area. Two other Phantoms flying in the area located the crash site, but because no contact with the crew was made and the enemy was active in the area, a ground search and rescue effort were not initiated.

First Lieutenant James Ervin Booth, who joined the U.S. Air Force from California, served with the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was the pilot systems operator aboard the Phantom when it crashed on June 23, 1968, and he remains unaccounted-for. After the incident, the Air Force promoted 1st Lt Booth to the rank of Major (Maj). Today, Major Booth is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Deferred.

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