BAILEY, JAMES WILLIAM
Name: James William Bailey
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Fighter Squadron 143, USS CONSTELLATION
Date of Birth: 19 January 1943
Home City of Record: Kosciusko MS
Date of Loss: 28 June 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 203300N 1060400E (XH111725)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Other Personnel in Incident: William P. Lawrence (released POW)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 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.
NETWORK with information from Donald Chapman. 2013
REMARKS: 730218 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: The USS CONSTELLATION provided air power to the U.S. effort in
Vietnam early in the war, having participated in strikes against Loc Chao
and Hon Gai in North Vietnam during August 1964. One of the first American
POWs of the war, and certainly one of the most well-known, LTJG Everett
Alverez, launched from her decks and was captured during this series of
strikes in 1964. The CONSTELLATION was large and carried a full range of
aircraft. Fighters from her air wing, CVW-14, earned the carrier the
Meritorious Unit Commendation in 1968 during a particularly intense period
of air attacks. VF-96, a premier fighter squadron awarded the Clifton Trophy
two straight years, flew from the CONSTELLATION in October 1971. During this
period, two of her pilots, LT Randall H. Cunningham and LTJG William
"Willie" Driscoll became the first American aces of the Vietnam War, having
shot down five Russian-made MiG enemy aircraft. The CONSTELLATION remained
on station throughout most of the war.
One of the aircraft launched from the decks of the CONSTELLATION was the F4
Phantom. The Phantom, used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings, served a
multitude of functions including fighter-bomber and interceptor, photo and
electronic surveillance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2),
and had a long range (900 - 2300 miles, depending on stores and mission
type). The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and
high altitudes. The F4 was selected for a number of state-of-the-art
electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing
capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest"
CDR William P. "Bill" Lawrence was the commanding officer of Fighter Squadron
143 onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. On 28 June 1967, Lawrence and his
backseater, LTJG James W. Bailey, flew a mission over Nam Dinh, North
Vietnam in their F4B Phantom. The aircraft was hit by enemy fire and the
crew was forced to eject. Bailey's wingman, Donald R. Chapman saw him get
shot down. Both Lawrence and Bailey were captured by the North Vietnamese.
It was not yet known that POWs were being tortured in captivity in Vietnam,
but Lawrence was to endure five consecutive days of misery in the hands of
his captors. By the time Lawrence and Bailey reached Hanoi, other POW
officers were devising their own code of conduct that specifically applied
to the problems they encountered as prisoners of war.
For the next six years, Lawrence and Bailey were held prisoner in the Hanoi
prison system. Finally, on February 18, 1973, Bailey was released, and on
March 4 Lawrence was released. The two were among 591 Americans that were
released in Operation Homecoming in the spring of 1973.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.
James W. Bailey was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant during his captivity.
William P. Lawrence remained in the Navy and attained the rank of Vice
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
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
JAMES W. BAILEY
Lieutenant - United States Navy
Shot Down: June 28, 1967
Released: February 18, 1973
I was born 19 January 1943 in Kosciusko Mississippi. I am a bachelor. My
parents are James Carl Bailey (deceased) and Marguerite Johnson Bailey. I
have one sister Rita Karleen Watson who is married to my CACO.
I attended Holmes Junior College with the help of a basketball scholarship.
I went to the University of Southern Mississippi; the Naval Cadet Program in
January 1964 and VF-143 in April 1965 as a Radar Intercept Officer. I flew
from USS Ranger in 1965 and 1966 and USS Constellation in 1967. I was shot
down on June 28 1967.
I plan to re-enter college at the University of Mississippi this fall and
major in history under the Navy College Degree Program
I think that my basic faith and trust in the system of government of the
United States of America was the factor which gave me the courage to go on
and face each day as it came. I felt that I had undertaken a tremendous
responsibility when I took the oath and accepted my commission as a United
States Naval Officer. I felt proud to uphold this responsibility.
James Bailey retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He and his
wife Suzanne reside in South Carolina, where he is a school administrator.
It is a very Small world
Another silver POW bracelet has turned up -- the property of Beth Gandy,
eleven-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gandy of Selma. She received
the ornament for Christmas.....
NOTE: Beth is alive and well in 1999, wishing "her" POW a long, healthy life.
More info: http://www.veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.php?recordID=1860