PADGETT, JAMES PHILLIP 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 Category: 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. REMARKS: 730328 RELSD BY DRV 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 JAMES P. PADGETT 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. WELCOME BACK! 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.