Remains Returned 06/05/2009
ID'd 07/09/2012
Name: James Montgomery Johnstone
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: 20th Aviation Detachment (see note in text)
Date of Birth: 04 May 1938 (Baton Rouge LA)
Home City of Record: Ft. Mill SC
Loss Date: 19 November 1966
Country of Loss: Laos (recorded in South Vietnam)
Loss Coordinates: 145338N 1070349E (YB384532)
Status (In 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: OV1A
Refno: 0526
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 2012.
Other Personnel in Incident: James L. Whited (missing)
SYNOPSIS: On November 19, 1966, Maj. James L. Whitehead, pilot and Capt.
James M. Johnstone, observer, were the crew of an OV1A Mohawk aircraft
(serial #13115, call sign Project 6) that departed Hue/Phu Bai airbase on a
reconnaissance mission over Laos.
The crew had completed its aerial search and was beginning a routine
reconnaissance in an area of high ridges and valleys. The aircraft was
observed by the crew of the cover aircraft to climb, as if to fly over the
top of a ridge, keeping close to the trees. It then crashed. The cover
aircraft saw no parachutes, nor was the overhead hatch seen to eject. The
cover aircraft took extensive photographs of the area while searching for
survivors. Army helicopters searched the area and saw what was apparently
one body, but photo interpretation revealed nothing. Observers did not feel
that either crewman survived the crash.
The last known location of the plane was in Attopeu Province, Laos, about 10
miles east-northeast of the city of Muong May. Defense Department records
list Whited as missing in Laos, while Johnstone is listed missing in South
Vietnam. Their loss coordinates place them both over 25 miles from the
border of Vietnam and Laos. Why Johnstone is not listed missing in Laos is
The OV1A was outfitted with photo equipment for aerial photo reconnaissance.
The planes obtained aerial views of small targets - hill masses, road
junctions or hamlets - in the kind of detail needed by ground commanders.
The planes were generally unarmed. The OV1's were especially useful in
reconnoitering the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Johnstone and Whited are among nearly 2500 Americans who did not come home
from Southeast Asia at the end of the war. Unlike the MIAs of other wars,
many of these men can be accounted for. Tragically, nearly 6000 reports of
Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia have been received by the US,
yet freedom for them seems beyond our grasp.
NOTE: The 20th Aviation Detachment existed until December 1966, at which
time it was reassigned as the 131st Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation
Battalion (Combat Support). The 131st Aviation Company had been assigned to
I Corps Aviation Battalion since June 1966, when it arrived in Vietnam. In
August 1967, the 131st Aviation Company was reassigned to the 212th Aviation
Battalion where it remained until July 1971, whereupon it transferred out of
There were a large number of pilots lost from this unit, including Thaddeus
E. Williams and James P. Schimberg (January 9, 1966); John M. Nash and Glenn
D. McElroy (March 15, 1966); James W. Gates and John W. Lafayette (April 6,
1966); Robert G. Nopp and Marshall Kipina (July 14, 1966); Jimmy M. Brasher
and Robert E. Pittman (September 28, 1966); James M. Johnstone and James L.
Whited (November 19, 1966); Larry F. Lucas (December 20, 1966); and Jack W.
Brunson and Clinton A. Musil (May 31, 1971). Missing OV1 aircraft crew from
the 20th/131st represent well over half of those lost on OV1 aircraft during
the war.
U.S. Army records list both Nopp and Kipina as part of the "131st Aviation
Company, 14th Aviation Battalion", yet according to "Order of Battle" by
Shelby Stanton, a widely recognized military source, this company was never
assigned to the 14th Aviation Battalion. The 131st was known as
"Nighthawks", and was a surveillance aircraft company.
From - Tue Aug 11 13:42:16 1998
Subject: Help, please!!
My name is Shawn Lee Johnstone, my father James M. Johnstone, Capt. in
the Army, was shot down while piloting a Mohawk Reconnaissance plane
over Laotian territory and his body was never recovered.
I have a twin brother, James Kevin Johnstone, we were both born October
9, 1966 and out father was shot down November 19, 1966.
Do you have any information about any of the men that served in our father's
Unit that I could contact to get more information about my father?
I would really appreciate ANY help or advise you could give me regarding
my father.
Shawn L. Johnstone



From - Sat Sep 19 17:04:57 1998

Sept 19 1998

Dear Shawn

My name is Clint V Anderson.  My sister (Elva Lynn) found the POW/MIA website, in her search
for information about our father.  She told me of this site, and here I am.  As I read through the love letters,
I came upon your letter asking for information about your father.

Unfortunately, I have no info about your father, but as I read your letter, I found that we share
a similar bond.  My father, to was killed in Laos, in Jan 1966.  Victor Edward (Eddie) Anderson
was returned home.

The bond we share is the loss of our fathers and the loss of knowing our fathers.  I was 3 when
dad died and my sister was 1.  I don't remember my father and that haunts me to this day. 

To me, your father and mine and all who served with them, are HEROES!  My family and I
wish you and yours, Love and happiness.

   Your friend,  Clint Victor Anderson



December 07, 2012

Soldier KIA During Vietnam War Identified

           The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, killed in action during the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

            Army Capt. James M. Johnstone, of Baton Rouge, La., will be buried Dec. 12, in Arlington National Cemetery.  On Nov. 19, 1966, Johnstone was the pilot of an OV-1A Mohawk aircraft that crashed while conducting a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos.  Nearby U.S. aircrews reported seeing the wing of Johnstone's aircraft hit a tree during a climb to avoid a nearby ridgeline.  No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft.  Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts.

            From 1993 to 2009, joint U.S.-Lao People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed multiple witnesses, and conducted several investigations and excavations of the crash site in Attapu Province.  The teams located human remains, military equipment, an identification card bearing Johnstone's name, and aircraft wreckage of an OV-1A, which correlated with the last known location of Johnstone's aircraft.

            To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC analyzed circumstantial evidence and used forensic identification tools, such as dental comparisons.

            Today, the U.S. government continues to work closely with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to recover Americans lost during the Vietnam War.

            For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at or call 703-699-1169.