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Name: James Eugene Steadman
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon Airfield, Thailand
Date of Birth: 18 February 1945
Home City of Record: Ft. Collins CO
Date of Loss: 26 November 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 162000N 1045800E (WC015965)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 3
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D
Refno: 1781

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 2020.

Other Personnel In Incident: Robert D. Beutel (missing)


SYNOPSIS: 1Lt. Robert D. Beutel flew backseater for Capt. James E. Steadman
on an F4D Phantom jet assigned to the 497th TFS at Ubon, Thailand. On
November 26, 1971, the two were flying a mission out of Thailand and over
Laos. Just inside Laos, in Savannakhet Province, their plane disappeared. No
one knew for sure if it was hit, or had mechanical trouble - it just
vanished. No remains or wreckage of the plane was ever found.

Bob Beutel and Jim Steadman were declared Missing in Action. The Air Force
maintained them in that classification for 7 years, and then declared them
dead, because there was "no evidence" to believe they were alive. There was
also no evidence that the two were dead.

Bob Beutel was packed for R & R in Australia after being overseas for 6
months. He was on his last flight before his departure. Jim Steadman, a
young officer from the Air Force Academy left a wife of only a short
duration to wonder what happened to him.

Beutel and Steadman are among nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos
during the war with Vietnam. Although the Pathet Lao stated on several
occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners, not a single
man held in Laos was ever released - or negotiated for.

Thousands of reports have been received which cause experts to believe that
hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity. Even the most skeptical
believe a number of prisoners may be held in Laos today. What must these
men, who willingly went to serve their country, be thinking of us? It's time
we brought them home.


Questions Remain
Daughter holds onto hope of learning what happened to her father who went missing while serving country

Carie Canterbury
The Daily Record

Friday will mark 39 years since any living American last had radio or visual contact with Capt. James Steadman, USAF. .....




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On November 26, 1971, an F-4 Phantom II (tail number 66-7752, call sign "Owl 08") conducted a forward air control mission over a heavily wooded, mountainous jungle area in eastern Laos. The last radio contact with the aircraft occurred as it was en route to the target area in Savannakhet Province in the vicinity of (GC) VD 964 056. Weather conditions were extremely poor, with rain, clouds and low visibility. When controllers could not re-establish radio contact with the crew of the Phantom, a seven day search and rescue effort began. Continuing bad weather and the rugged terrain hampered visual and photographic searches, and radio and electronic contact could not be established. The search was unsuccessful and the crew were declared missing.

Captain James Eugene Steadman, who joined the U.S. Air Force from Colorado, served with the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. He was the aircraft commander aboard the Phantom when it disappeared, and he remains unaccounted for. Today, Captain Steadman 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.

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