Name: James Michael Lyon
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army
Unit: HHC, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
Date of Birth: 08 mARCH 1948
Home City of Record: Indianapolis IN
Date of Loss: 05 February 1970
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 163045N 1072824E (YD494093)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1H

Other Personnel in Incident: Tom Y. Kobashigawa, John W. Parsels, Daniel H.
Hefel (returned POWs)


Source: Compiled by HOMECOMING II and the P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.  2020

SYNOPSIS: At 1530 hours on February 5, 1970, Capt. James M. Lyon, pilot,
Capt. John W. Parsels, copilot, SP5 Tom Y. Kobashigawa, crew chief, and SP4
Daniel Hefel, door gunner, were flying a UH1H helicopter (serial #68-16441)
on a maintenance mission from Hue to Phy Bai, South Vietnam.

When the aircraft was about 18 miles northwest of Hue City, the helicopter
caught fire and crashed (due to a malfunction). Capt. Lyon was thrown clear
of the aircraft and was burned extensively over his body and part of his
right leg. His leg was severed four inches below the knee. The other crew
members were also injured and could not take evasie action. They were
captured at 1630 hours by NVA troops and spent the night near the crash

Throughout the night, the crew members heard their pilot yelling and moaning
in pain. At 0600 hours, Capt. Lyon moaned and then a shot was heard from his
position about 30 feet from the aircraft wreckage. No other outcry from
Capt. Lyon was heard, and the others believed that he had been killed by the

Two weeks later, Capt. Parsels was told by 1Lt. Lee Van Mac (an NVA
commander at "Camp Farnsworth") that Capt. Lyon died from his wounds and was
buried at the crash site. 1Lt. Lee Van Mac gave Capt. Parsels the personal
effects of Capt. Lyon, including his ID card and several photos which
appeared to be of Lyon's wife.

In late March, 1973, Parsels, Hefel and Kobashigawa were released from
prisons in North Vietnam. In their debriefings, all three concurred on the
story that Lyon had apparently been shot. They considered it a mercy
killing, because their pilot had been so seriously injured that they doubted
that he could survive.

Curiously, the Vietnamese have not returned the body of Capt. James M. Lyon,
nor have they been forthcoming with information concerning him. Tragically,
Capt. Lyon has been a prisoner of war for nearly 20 years - alive or dead.

Even more tragic are the thousands of reports that continue to flow in
indicating that some hundreds of Americans are still prisoner in Indochina.
It's long past time we brought our men home.




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On February 5, 1970, a UH-1 Iroquois (tail number 68-16441, call sign "Brandy 3") with a crew of four departed Hue, South Vietnam on a maintenance mission to Phu Bai, South Vietnam. Northwest of Hue in the vicinity of (GC) YD 494 093, the helicopter caught fire and crashed due to a malfunctioning engine. The pilot was thrown from the aircraft and severely injured. The three other crew members, also injured, were captured by North Vietnamese soldiers. They were returned to U.S. custody during Operation Homecoming, and reported that a North Vietnamese soldier shot the pilot before taking them to the prison camp. The camp commander later gave one of the three prisoners the pilot's identification card and told him that the pilot had died of his wounds.

Captain James Michael Lyon, who joined the U.S. Army from Indiana, served with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. He was the pilot of the Iroquois when it crashed, and his remains were not recovered. Today, Captain Lyon 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.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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