JAMES, SAMUEL LARRY Remains buried 04/18/99 ID disputed. Name: Samuel Larry James Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force Unit: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron Date of Birth: 24 July 1945 Home City of Record: Chattanooga TN Date of Loss: 18 April 1973 Country of Loss: Cambodia Loss Coordinates: 134200N 1065900E (YA153151) Status (in 1973): (none) Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E
Other Personnel in Incident: Douglas K. Martin (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project and the P.O.W. NETWORK - updated using one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews with Barbara White, POW sister of Samuel James.
REMARKS: DEAD-CHARRED BODIES-FBIS
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Douglas K. Martin was the pilot, and Capt. Samuel L. James the weapons system officer on an F4E "Phantom" jet assigned the task of marking a target in Cambodia with a smoke rocket on April 18, 1973. Radar contact was lost with the aircraft during the mission and no radio contact was made with the crew. Wingmen observed no explosion or parachutes, and no emergency radio signal "beepers" were heard. The wingmen did not see the plane go down, but they did observe a new swath cut through dense jungle nearby.
A subsequent 700-square-mile search was conducted for the aircraft. During the search for Martin and James, aerial photographs were taken of a probable crash site which revealed an ejection seat, wing debris and one main landing gear. The Air Force stated that James "is probably a POW according to our intelligence."
A July 8, 1973 report from a South Vietnamese agent who spoke with a refugee described three American prisoners wearing one-piece flight suits who arrived in Kompong Barey Hamlet in Prey Veng Province in southern Cambodia, en route to an unnamed location near Loc Ninh in South Vietnam. The agent contacted a Viet Cong cadre who stated that they would be held at Loc Ninh for future exchange. U.S. officials later denied that the July 8, 1973 sighting report existed, although James' father saw it himself in James' file when in Thailand in October, 1973. Mr. James also spoke with the wingmen. They all agreed that the crew could have survived.
A Cambodian broadcast report stating that the bodies of Martin and James were found "charred" in the plane wreckage, was dismissed in 1973 by the Defense Department as "propaganda," and the family was told not to regard it seriously. The documentation provided the family dated 18 APR 73 ended with "these statements are considered propaganda in nature, Your brother is still officially listed as missing in action. Yet, as late as 1980, the "charred bodies" remark remain as data identifiers in Defense Department records, with no further explanation given to the family.
A former government official (who had access to MIA/POW classified information) provided Sam's mother and sisiter an unsolicited summary of another sighting report. A hand-picked, controlled agent was sent back to check out the first sighting report. The villagers in the area said that the pilots had "popped out" (ejected) and were captured.
James' family has never given up hope that he is still alive, waiting for his country to secure his freedom. His family has worked tirelessly since the day he was shot down to bring him home.
Both Douglas K. Martin and Samuel L. James attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. When shot down, James was wearing a POW bracelet bearing the name of a missing Academy friend, Dennis Pugh.
Date: Saturday, 02-Jan-99 Subject: POW Where is Justice for Samuel L. James Barbara C. White Email email@example.com
As most of you know my brother, Samuel Larry James, became Missing in Action over Cambodia on April 18, 1973. Larry was a Navigator on a F4 Phantom Jet. The wingmen flying with him that day observed no explosions or parachutes. It was the policy of his squadron not to use beepers, and no beepers were heard. Aerial photographs of the probable crash site were taken. An unnamed source in the government said to a journalist that "James was probably a POW according to our intelligence."
A sighting report was seen at the JCRC (located in SEA at that time) concerning my brother and his pilot. The report told of American pilots in that area being taken into custody by Vietnamese troops. The Vietnamese were taking the pilots towards Vietnam.
In the book The Men We Left Behind by Mark Sauter, on page 200 and American CIA agent overheard Samuel Larry James telling his name and that he was okay on a radio transmission that was intercepted by this CIA agent. The CIA does not release classified documents so this report has not appeared in Larry's file.
As family members we have continued to contact anyone and everyone to find evidence concerning my brother for 25 years. Very little has appeared in his file.
For years we have been told that nothing was known. We were told that the probable crash site was swept clean and used as farm land. In 1993 my brother's daughter (considered by the government as his Primary Next of Kin) was told that an old woman saw the plane crash, and she walked to the site. My husband discovered that this explanation did not refer to Larry's crash site. It was 30 miles away and referred to another incident. The ent ire scenario was removed from my brother's file and was not mentioned by Casualty again after that.
The government sent a letter stating my brother's case was inactive and did not recommend excavation. Then one year ago I discovered on the Internet a joint team going into Cambodia to do excavation. My Mother and I waited to hear if in fact a team went in to my brother's crash site for excavation. We waited and waited. No word came. In June we made our trip to Washington, D.C. Nothing was in Larry's file about a recent excavation. We verbally asked the SEA official at Air Force Casualty if a team had gone into Larry's site. He answered yes. Evidently Air Force Casualty was waiting (months) to notify the Primary Next of Kin (my brother's daughter). He said he did not have her current address. My husband showed it to him in the file. All this time had passed and the address was there in the file. He said the Primary Next of Kin had to be notified then my Mother and me.
We finally received a report with vague explanations. I wrote Joint Task Force-Full Accounting for more detailed answers. Evasive answers were returned one month later with photographs of the excavation. The photographs were not labeled and very difficult to discern. The report stated that teeth with restorations were found but we were never told how many teeth. Bone Fragments were said to be found but we were never told how many fragments were found. My mother and I have not been asked for a blood sample so Mt. DNA has not been used. We were told about limited plane parts and personal effects. The excavation team said they found my brother's identification tag. Lately quite a few tags have been found at crash sites. Were they at the crash site or in a drawer to be pulled out when needed?
On December 10, 1998 I received a phone call from AF Mort uary saying a dental identification would be made on my brother and the pilot.
Years ago we asked the AF Casualty about my brother's dental file, and we were told that they did not have it. The small bone fragments in size and quantity, personal effects, and plane parts were determined to be a group identification. 25 years later we are down to a few chips of bone , few chips of teeth, ID tags, and plane parts to determine the identity of two soldiers. Where is justice and truth? My brother's daughter will be allowed to choose the individual service (location and time) and my brot er's daughter will confer with the pilot's wife to set a time for the group identification service. My mother does not have a say in any of these decisions. Not conferring with my mother about Larry's case is fore ign to me. No one is closer to a son than his mother. This does not mean that uncertainty has been lifted or that we now have an answer about Larry's fate. It means we were told what the government has decided.
My brother will be marked identified on the government's book, but the truth has not been told.
My mother and I wrote letters to our Congressmen and Senators. Please continue to pray for my brother and my family. To my family my brother's fate is still unknown. However; God is certain.
National Alliance of Families For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen World War II - Korea - Cold War - Vietnam - Yugoslavia
Dolores Alfond ----- 425-881-1499 Lynn O'Shea ------- 718-846-4350 Email ----------------firstname.lastname@example.org Website ------------- http://www.nationalalliance.org
April 11, 1999
Another Family's Questions - On April 18, 1999 remains identified as Douglas Martin and Samuel Larry James will be intered at the Air Force Academy Cemetary. While Capt. James' daughter accepts the identification, his mother Virgie James, and his sister Barbara White DO NOT. Larry's identification is based on a dog tag found at the site and several teeth which DO NOT match Capt. Martin and "compare favorably" to Capt. James.
The dental identification of Capt. James is far from conclusive. Four independent dentists reviewed the odentolgist report. Their opinion is split down the middle, with two saying it could be Capt. James and two saying it might not be Capt. James. A dental comparison should either match or not match. A favorable comparison, is not sufficient for an identification.
The identification of remains is not a game of horseshoes. Close does not count!
Neither Larry's mom nor his Sister will be attending the April 18th internment. Both Mrs. James and her daughter Barbara ask that those wearing Larry's POW bracelet continue to wear the bracelet, as they do not consider him accounted for.
No. 057-M MEMORANDUM FOR CORRESPONDENTS April 16, 1999
The remains of six American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial in the United States.
They are identified as Air Force Capt. Dean A. Wadsworth, Clarendon, Texas; Marine SSgt. Harold E. Reid, Salt Lake City, Utah; Navy Lt. David L. Hodges, Chevy Chase, Md.; Air Force Lt. Col. Lewis M. Robinson, Saginaw, Mich.; Air Force Capt. Douglas K. Martin, Tyler, Texas; and Air Force Capt. Samuel L. James, Chattanooga, Tenn.
On Oct. 8, 1963, Wadsworth and his South Vietnamese crewman were flying their T-28B Trojan on a combat support mission approximately 50 miles southwest of Da Nang, South Vietnam. As he completed his bombing run over the target, his aircraft broke apart in mid air, crashed and exploded, as reported by another pilot on the mission. A massive search and rescue operation was initiated that day by two Marine helicopters but they disappeared during the mission. At dawn on the following day, Marine heli copters airlifted two companies of South Vietnamese infantrymen to the area of the downed aircraft. As the helicopters landed, enemy troops fired on them, wounding three Marine crewmen and killing a Vietnamese soldier.
Two T-28s, B-26s and a South Vietnamese A-1 aircraft responded by strafing enemy positions. An American L-19 light observation aircraft directing the strike was hit, the Vietnamese observer was wounded, and the aircraft made a forced landing. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese ground troops found both Marine helicopters that had disappeared on the first day. Ten bodies were recovered, but two remain missing in action to this day. In the days during the search and rescue operations, 207 missions were flow n, three aircraft were lost and four others damaged. Fifteen South Vietnamese soldiers were killed and seven were wounded.
In late 1993, a Vietnamese local turned over remains he said were recovered near the crash site. In May of the following year, a joint U.S./Vietnamese team, led by the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, visited the area of the crash, interviewed villagers and obtained some aircraft debris and pilot-related equipment. In September, another joint team examined the crash site and found more debris, but no remains. Then in May 1995, another team excavated the site where they found remains, as well as two identification tags of Wadsworth.
On Sept. 13, 1967, Reid completed his tour guarding an observation post near a river in Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam. Before dawn, he crossed the bridge to visit a friend on the south side of the river. He was never seen again. A joint U.S./Vietnamese team in August 1993 interviewed local informants who claimed to have buried an American Marine who had been shot by the Vietcong near the river. The informants stated that the body had been moved and re-buried at another location, but the team could not locate it. In September 1995, another team interviewed other informants, but obtained little information.
Then in April 1996, a third team excavated the reported burial site about 1,000 meters from the southern end of the bridge where they found remains as well as material evidence and personal equipment.
On Oct. 7, 1967, Hodges was leading a strike mission near Hanoi, North Vietnam when his A-4E Skyhawk was struck by an enemy surface-to-air missile. His wingman reported receiving a radio transmission from the lieutenant that his engine had flamed out. As the wingman watched, Hodges' burning aircraft rolled to the right, entered a steep dive, and crashed. No parachute was sighted and no emergency beeper signals were heard. Because of enemy control of the area, there was no search and rescue missi on mounted.
Acting on information obtained from Vietnamese wartime documents, a joint U.S./Vietnamese team interviewed villagers in July 1995 who claimed to have visited the site shortly after the crash and buried the pilot. But the crash crater had been filled with dirt to allow farming, so the team found no evidence of a crash. But the following April, another team mounted an excavation at the site where they did recover remains, a wristwatch fragment, pilot-related items and aircraft wreckage. Later, in S eptember 1996, a third team continued the excavation and found additional remains among the wreckage.
Robinson was flying his A-1E Skyraider on a close air support mission over Saravane Province, Laos, on June 4, 1967, when he was struck by enemy ground fire. His aircraft pitched up abruptly, struck the wing of another aircraft, went into an inverted spin and crashed amid an explosion. None of the other pilots in the flight reported seeing a parachute nor hearing emergency beeper signals. Hostile threats in the area prevented air or ground searches of the crash site.
In early 1988, representatives of the Laotian government turned over remains to the U. S. Joint Casualty Resolution Center, the unit leading joint recovery operations in Southeast Asia at the time. A joint U.S./Lao team traveled to the area of the crash site in November 1993, interviewed villagers, surveyed the area and recovered skeletal fragments, aircraft wreckage and pilot-related equipment. Then in January 1998, a second joint team excavated the site and recovered more remains and personal eq uipment.
Martin and James were flying a forward air control mission over Cambodia on April 18, 1973, when they descended below a 6,000-foot layer of haze in their F-4E Phantom. They radioed they had the target in sight, but their wingman was unable to maintain visual contact. He asked Martin and James to give him an automatic direction-finder signal but there was no response. On several passes over the target, the wingman noted fires and explosions near the target area. There were no parachutes sighted, nor emergency beeper signals. Enemy activity in the area prevented a ground search, but aerial reconnaissance the following day noted aircraft debris at the site.
In 1993, 1995 and 1997, three joint U.S./Cambodian teams developed leads through interviews with local villagers and surveys of the crash site. The informants noted that the crash site had been heavily scavenged and that remains had been present at one time. Then in January 1998, a joint team excavated the site where they found remains amid numerous pieces of aircraft wreckage. Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii confirmed the identification of all six of these servicemen. With the accounting of these six, there are now 2,063 Americans unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. Since the release of American POWs in 1973, 520 MIAs from Southeast Asia have been accounted-for and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the governments of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and the Kingdom of Cambodia that resulted in the accounting of these servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future. Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the highest national priority. -END-
I am a cadet at the US Air Force Academy. Yesterday I attended the funerals of Capts. Doug Martin and Sam James, 2 USAFA grads whose remains were recently found in Cambodia and returned to the United States to be buried. They were buried together in the same casket with the same headstone, just as they were found "buried" together in their F-4 for the last 26 years. I thought it was a great moment. There were over 300 people at the service including many of the two deceased pilots' classmates from the Academy, as well as many Vietnam vets and those who have still "not forgottetn". Thank you for your time.
C3C Jerimy D. Maclellan
----------------------------- Associated Press Newswires Saturday, April 17, 1999
Relatives of airman doubt remains are his
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - The sister and parents of Capt. Samuel L. James will not be at the Air Force Academy on Sunday to see his remains put to rest after 26 years -- because they doubt the remains are his......