Name: James Phillip Padgett
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force, pilot
Unit: 561 TFS
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Cedar Key FL
Date of Loss: 11 May 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 204800N 1052900E
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F105G
Missions: 13
Other Personnel in Incident: William H. Talley (released POW)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources including "Linebacker" by Karl J.
Eschmann. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.


SYNOPSIS: In the spring of 1972, the U.S. formulated the LINEBACKER
offensive. Its objective was to keep the weapons of war out of North
Vietnam. At this time, the North Vietnamese had one of the best air defense
systems in the world, with excellent radar integration of SA-2 SAMs, MiGs,
and antiaircraft artillery. The NVN defense system could counter our forces
from ground level up to nineteen miles in the air. MiG fighters were on
ready alert, and after takeoff, were vectored by ground-control radar.
Soviet advisors devised attack strategies, manned a number of the SAM sites,
and also trained North Vietnamese crews.

The strongest SAM reactions were reserved for defense of the most vital
targets. During LINEBACKER strikes into the Hanoi/Haiphong area, it was not
unusual for a U.S. force to be met by barrages of over 100 missiles. (The
SA-2 SAM missile was 21 feet long.) Pilots also had to cope with the enemy's
creative launch tactics.

One tactic used by the North Vietnamese was the employment of barrage
firings of unguided SAMs, which distracted and harassed aircrews both over
the target and while MiGs positioned themselves for rear attacks.

The success of this tactic was demonstrated on May 11, 1972, when an F105G
was shot down. A barrage of six SAMs diverted the attention of the Iron Hand
flight while MiGs attacked from the rear. Maj. James P. Padgett, EWO of
the aircraft, and Maj. William H. Talley, pilot, successfully ejected
from the aircraft about 25 miles southwest of Hanoi and were captured by the
North Vietnamese.

LINEBACKER and LINEBACKER II offensives were the most effective strikes
against enemy defenses in the war. By the end of these surgical strikes,
according to pilots who flew the missions, the North Vietnamese had "nothing
left to shoot at us as we flew over. It was like flying over New York City."

In late March, both Padgett and Talley were released in Operation Homecoming
along with 589 other Americans. Military officials were dismayed at the time
that hundreds known or suspected to be prisoners were not released.

Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing,
prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S.
Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified
information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive
today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned
American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return
unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the
honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly
held. It's time we brought our men home.

William H. Talley was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in December
of 1971.

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Major - United States Air Force
Shot Down : May 11, 1972
Released : March 28, 1973

Major James P. Padgett graduated from the University of Florida in 1955 with
a civil engineering degree. He was classified as missing in action on May
11, 1972 and his status changed to POW on June 23, 1972.

About a thousand people went to the Plaza of America at the University to
honor three POWs who were alumni of the University. Another distinguished
alumnus was present, Dr. Roger Shields, who was the Director of the POW/MIA
Task Force at the Pentagon. In honoring the POWs, the President of the
University, Dr. Stephen G. O'Connell said while making a formal
presentation, "... who, in a time of tremendous darkness and despair as a
prisoner of war in the Vietnam conflict, conducted himself as a proud member
of the United States Armed Forces and, in so doing, brought great honor, not
only to himself, but also the nation and to the University from which he
graduated. In paying homage to these patriotic Americans we don't glorify
war, we join with these three in hopes there will be no more war." When
Major Pedgett accepted the plaque from President O'Connell, he did so with
deepest humility. He said, "I am humble at being recognized." Major Padgett,
his wife, Grace, along with his parents, two sisters, a brother and his
mother-in-law attended the ceremony.

MESSAGE:   This is a special message to all my friends throughout the United
States who shared with my family your concern for my life and health while I
was held captive and continued to wish me the best in life after my
repatriation and return to my friends and loved ones. Your prayers for us
while we were away were heard and our nation was guided to a solution to the
conflict by the decisive action taken by our government. I am thankful to
you for your faith and devotion to our country and its leader. Please accept
my thanks to you for your great concern and comfort to my family in their
time of need. I am forever grateful.

The following poem was sent to Major Padgett by a patriotic American, Mr.
Harry Dee of Poughkeepsie, New York. Major Padgett asked that it be
dedicated to all the POWs.

Oh, welcome back, ye prisoners!
  Home to our waiting arms!
Rush to us, all ye who survived
 War's endless brutal harms!
America says: "Welcome back!"
  Back to your hearth-and-home
And to each one of us you are
 Each one our very own!
Just everywhere the countryside
 Is bursting out with joys
To show its love,  its pride and due
 To greet back home its "boys'

'Tis roses, roses all the way
 We strew along your path;
This way-and more-we try our best
 T'erase war's aftermath.
We'll ne'er forget all those shipped back
 In coffins grim and plain;
For them our hearts will e'er keep deep
 An e'er-eduring pain.
We've not forgotten those that failed
 To come back home with you;
But life needs life as nourishment
 Just as the earth needs dew.

Time does assuage almost an pain
 (Maybe 'tis God's best way)
In spite of grief, we still can say:
 "Thank you, Lord, for this day"-

This great day of deliverance
 And of thanksgiving too
As we Americans set to
 Begin life all anew.

Harry Dee
February-March, 1973

James Padgett retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He
lives in Nevada.