Name: James Albert Champion
Rank/Branch: E3/US Army
Unit: Company L (Ranger), 75th Infantry Regiment, assigned to 101st Airborne
Date of Birth: 16 November 1949
Home City of Record: Houston TX
Date of Loss: April 24, 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 161155N 1071930E (YC484923)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground    
Refno: 1742

Other Personnel In Incident: Issako Malo (released POW); Marvin Duren
(rescued); John Sly (killed); (one other team member, the medic, rescued); CWO
Fred Behrens (from one of the helicopters, 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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: James A. Champion was a member of a six-man radio relay Long Range
Reconnaissance Patrol being inserted for operation in a saddle at
coordinates YC483923, Republic of on Vietnam April 23, 1971. After receiving
intense ground fire from their primary landing zone on the west side of the
A Shau Valley, the team was inserted into their alternate LZ.

Taking the point, Team Leader Marvin Duren was severely wounded by automatic
weapons fire, grenade and rifle fire, and was evacuated. His ATL, John Sly,
was killed in action in a heroic attempt with the team medic to drag Duren
out of the line of enemy fire.

CWO Fred Behrens, the MEDEVAC "Dustoff" pilot, was a volunteer, having flown
the mission because he felt his chances of succeeding in this hot LZ would
be higher than other, newer pilots, but he was shot down during his second
attempt to extract Sly from the LZ and found himself on the ground with the

Several other helicopters with reinforcements were shot down by intense
ground fire and Aero Rifle Platoon reinforcements were forced to withdraw
and regroup due to heavy fire from the NVA.

During the three day battle that began at 1500 hours on April 23, Rangers
Champion and Issako Malo left the team's defensive perimeter to seek water.
Behrens heard shots, and the two Rangers never returned.

PFC Isaako F. Malo, was last seen at about 1600 hours on April 24. Champion
was last seen on the morning of 25 April when he left the site of one of the
downed helicopters to look for water. From April 25 through April 30, ground
and aerial searches were made for Champion without success.

Isaako Malo was confirmed captured, and after his release from captivity, he
stated that he was captured on the morning of April 25, and at no time did
he see PFC Champion in captivity.

A reaction force from L/75 Rangers was inserted into the area and
successfully drove the NVA elements away from the Ranger Team's position,
and survivors were evacuated. No one ever told the six-man team how large
the enemy force was that they had been up against. However, it was a large
enough force to warrant an Arclight strike by B-52 bombers.

Evidence mounts that hundreds of Americans still missing in Southeast Asia
are still alive, captive, waiting for their country to free them. James
Champion may be one of them.




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Private First Class (PFC) James Albert Champion, who joined the U.S. Army from Texas, served with Company L, 75th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. On April 23, 1971, he was a member of a six-man radio relay team inserted into a landing zone in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. The team came under heavy enemy fire, and attempts to evacuate them resulted in the loss of two helicopters. The team members and the surviving crews of the two helicopters became widely dispersed as they sought to evade enemy soldiers. PFC Champion was last seen by a fellow team member when he went in search of water. Soldiers captured during this incident did not see him at the prison camps, and although ground and aerial searches were conducted for five days afterward, his remains were not located. After the incident, the Army promoted PFC Champion to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Today, Staff Sergeant Champion 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 Active Pursuit.

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