BECKER, JAMES CHRISTOF
Name: James Christof Becker
Rank/Branch: O2/US Army
Unit: 71st Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion, 16th Aviation Group,
23rd Infantry Division (Americal)
Date of Birth: 18 April 1944 (Oxford NE)
Home City of Record: Palestine TX
Date of Loss: 15 August 1970
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 154943N 1070111E (YC509163)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Peter A. Schmidt (missing); Michael D. Crist;
Raymond W. Anderson (both rescued)
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 with
information provided by Michael Beaumont. 2020
SYNOPSIS: On August 15, 1970, 1Lt. James C. Becker, pilot; CW2 Raymond W.
Anderson, aircraft commander; SP4 Michael D. Crist, crewchief; and SP4
Peter A. Schmidt, door gunner; were flying a UH1H helicopter (tail number
69-15375) on a reconnaissance team extraction mission in Laos.
Because of the difficult terrain in the area of the planned extraction, the
recon team was to be lifted out by ladder. The helicopter hovered 50 feet
over the pickup zone and dropped the ladder from the right side of the
aircraft. Five of the team members climbed onto the ladder, and the
helicopter began to lift off. At about 100 feet the aircraft began to
receive small arms fire and crashed.
The five team members were stripped off the ladder by the trees as the
helicopter descended. After the crash, CW2 Anderson checked the two crewmen
on the right side of the aircraft, noticing that 1Lt. Becker was upright in
his seat, however, it seemed that he had hit his head into the overhead
instrument panel in the force of the impact. Becker's helmet was gone, and
there was blood on the floor. CW2 Anderson stated that Becker did not appear
to be breathing. Anderson then unsuccessfully attempted to free Schmidt from
the right gunnel. He noted no blood on Schmidt, but stated that Schmidt did
not appear to be breathing.
SP4 Crist checked SP4 Schmidt and noticed that he was breathing, and in
short gasps, and was losing a great deal of blood. Crist had dislocated his
collarbone, so was unable to free Schmidt from the wreckage.
Crist and Anderson returned to the pickup zone and were extracted. No
attempts were made to return and recover Becker and Schmidt because of the
location and hostile forces in the area. Although no other personnel are
listed as missing from this incident, the fate of the team members on the
ladder remains unknown. They were either recovered (dead or alive), or were
indigenous personnel (and would not be listed on U.S. casualty lists).
Becker and Schmidt are among nearly 2500 Americans who remain missing from
Vietnam. Schmidt, at least, was not dead when last seen by the surviving
crewmen of the crashed helicopter.
With thousands of reports having been received by the U.S. Government, and
still being received today, of Americans still held captive in Southeast
Asia, most experts believe there are hundreds of Americans still prisoner in
Southeast Asia. There can be no certainty that Becker and Schmidt died the
day their helicopter crashed. They could be among those said to be alive. If
so, what must they be thinking of us?
October 24, 1998
James Christof Becker
Rank/Branch: 02/US Army
Unit: 71st Assault Helicopter Co., 14th C.A.B.
Date of Loss: 15 August, 1970
I was 1Lt. Becker's platoon leader at the time of this incident, erest to
his family. 1Lt. Becker and CW2 Anderson were flying a covert mission at the
time of their loss. During this time in 1970 the 14th C.A.B. and the 71st
A.H.C. were charged with providing aircraft to perform insertion and
extraction missions for CCN (Command Control North) a covert operations
group (1). I was flying a re-supply mission for the 196th Inf. BDE. Out of
Kham Duc, approximately three kilometers east of the Vietnam, Laotian
border. Although 1Lt. Becker & CW2 Anderson were operating on a secure radio
frequency, their mayday call was broadcast in the clear. I was sitting at
the POL point at Kham Duc, checking our aircraft for bullet holes, since we
had just taken fire on our previous mission while coming out of the landing
zone. The infantry commander came out to our ship and informed us that he
was sending out troops that we could insert to secure the area where 1Lt.
Becker's aircraft had gone down. I immediately cranked and prepared to load
the packs. Other Rattler and Minute Man aircraft were arriving and
refueling for the insertion and a gun team alerted. After a few minutes, we
were informed by radio that we were "not to return to the crash sight and
not to insert American troops". The infantry commander protested to Americal
Division HQ and was threatened with court martial if he did not obey. Some
weeks later CW2 Anderson brought a newspaper from home to the 71st Officers
club. The headlines read something like "Laotian officials Protest at UN
over US troops operating in neutral Laos". .. and the US categorically
denied the allocations. Therefore, I believe that 1Lt. Becker and Sp4
Schmidt may have been captured by Laotian communist troops and not
Vietnamese. Both of these individuals may have been rescued or at least
recovered had division headquarters given the approval.
I have been unable to locate these survivors through all the veterans groups
of which I am associated, (Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, 71st
Association) to gather more details. I will post the report I downloaded
from your page on the above association web sites in hope of finding out
more information. We can not forget our Brothers in Arms.
Michael J. Beaumont (former Capt. US Army)
e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org