METZ, JAMES HARDIN
Remains returned March 18, 1977
Name: James Hardin Metz
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: Korat AB TH
Date of Birth: 12 June 1931
Home City of Record: Poplar Bluff MO
Date of Loss: 15 April 1968
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 173900N 1062400E (XE484518)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 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.
REMARKS: REMS RETD TO PCOM BY SRV 770318
SYNOPSIS: The F105 Thunderchief ("Thud"), in its various versions, flew more
missions against North Vietnam than any other U.S. aircraft. It also
suffered more losses, partially due to its vulnerability, which was
constantly under revision. Between 1965 and 1971, the aircraft was equipped
with armor plate, a secondary flight control system, an improved pilot
ejection seat, a more precise navigation system, better blind bombing
capability and ECM pods for the wings. While the D version was a
single-place aircraft, the F model carried a second crewman which made it
well suited for the role of suppressing North Vietnam's missile defenses.
Major James H. Metz was a career Air Force pilot. He joined the Air Force in
1953 and was stationed at various U.S. bases before being assigned to Korat
Airbase in Thailand.
On April 15, 1968, Maj. Metz was assigned a mission near the city of Quang
Khe in Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. During the mission, Metz' wingman
radioed that Metz' aircraft had been hit by enemy flak and that he should
follow the emergency procedure and head for open waters for ejection and
Although Metz did not respond to the radio transmission, he turned his
aircraft toward the sea, but was forced to eject before he could reach it.
The wingman observed his ejection and saw him land in a clump of trees near
a highway in a heavily populated area.
Enemy fire forced the wingman to leave, but not before he had plotted the
location where Metz had landed. Rescue forces arrived 45 minutes later.
Metz' parachute was gone, and there was no sign of activity except for heavy
ground fire which prevented further searching.
Later, a Hanoi Radio broadcast described the capture of an American pilot in
that area. Metz was the only pilot shot down in that area on that day. Three
weeks later, intelligence sources reported that Metz had been seen alive on
the ground with his captors shortly after the crash. The Defense Department
changed Metz' status to Captured.
When 591 Americans were released in 1973 Operation Homecoming at the end of
American involvement in Southeast Asia, Jim Metz was not among them.
Military officials expressed their dismay at the time that hundreds of
Americans known or suspected to be prisoners were not released.
For years, the Vietnamese denied knowledge of the fate of Jim Metz, even
though the U.S. believes he was captured. Then on March 18, 1977, the
Vietnamese returned the remains of Jim Metz. He was finally home.
SUMMARY SELECTION RATIONALE
NAME: METZ, James H. Maj., USAF
OFFICIAL STATUS: DEAD, BODY NOT RECOVERED
CASE SUMMARY: SEE ATTACHED
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION: Maj. Metz was seen to eject and descend with a
good parachute. No radio contact was made with him. The next day radio
Hanoi reported a shootdown and capture which positively correlated to Maj.
Metz. No correlated reports of death have been received concerning Maj.
REFNO: 1130 20 Apr 76
(U) CASE SUMMARY
1. On 15 April 1968 Maj. James H. Metz was the pilot of the lead F105D, (
#61-0206), in a flight of two on a reconnaissance mission over North
Vietnam. Maj. Metz' aircraft was observed to be on fire, apparently hit by
flak from 37MM and 57MM anti-aircraft artillery fire (AAA). He was advised
that his aircraft was on f ire and was told to turn to the right and climb,
as the coast was about eight nautical miles away. About 15 seconds later,
(1500 hours), Maj. Metz was seen to eject at an altitude of 4,500 feet. A
good seat separation and parachute deployment was observed, with a strong
parachute beeper heard shortly after the parachute deployed, until about
five minutes after the parachute landed in a tree on a hillside; (vicinity
of grid coordinates (GC) XE 488 529). The aircraft crashed about 1 1/2
nautical miles from the pilot's landing position. No radio contact was
established with Maj. Metz. Several passes were made over a road about 400
feet from the parachute, but no one was seen in the area. The wingman
refueled and returned to the area where the parachute was last seen and
searched for about 30 minutes, but the parachute was no longer visible.
Despite attempts to contact Ma Metz on the guard channel, no communication
was established. (Ref 1)
2. On 16 April 1968 "Radio Hanoi" reported the downing of an F105 aircraft
over Quang Binh Province at 1530 hours that day, and also reported that the
pilot had balled out and was captured. (There is positive correlation of'
this report to Maj. Metz). (Ref 2)
3. Maj. Metz never appeared on any of the DRV listing or in the POW chain.
4. During the existence of JCRC, the hostile threat in the area precluded
any visits to or ground inspections of the sites involved in this case.
This individual's name and identifying data were turned over to the
Four-Party Joint Military Team with a request for any information
available. No response was forthcoming. Maj. Metz is currently carried in
the presumptive status of Dead, Body Not Recovered.
1. RPT (U), 386th TFW, AF form 484 w/statements, 19 Apr 68.
2. RPT (U), AFMPC/CB, w/enclosures, 15 May 75.
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