SANSONE, JAMES JOSEPH
Name: James Joseph Sansone
Rank/Branch: E3/US Navy
Unit: Crewman, USS NEWPORT NEWS
Date of Birth: 24 March 1950
Home City of Record: Norwood MA
Date of Loss: 10 August 1972
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 165544N 1071836E (YD460730)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 September 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. NETWORK 2020.
SYNOPSIS: Seaman James J. Sansone was a crewmember assigned to USS NEWPORT
NEWS (CA 184) on station in the Gulf of Tonkin offshore from the
Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam. On September 10, 1972 at 8:47 a.m., Seaman
Sansone was seen to fall overboard from the outboard hatch of a 5" / 38-gun
mount. All main 5" /38-gun mounts on the NEWPORT NEWS are positioned so that
when trained centerline their outboard sides are parallel to the life lines
which run fore and aft on the sides of the ship. Since such lines preclude
movement of the mounts, they are removed at any time a mount is to be
trained outboard in firing position.
Prior to Sansone's fall, the gun mount had been trained to the starboard
side in order to conduct transmission checks. At the conclusion of these
checks, a warning bell would sound to indicate that the mount was about to
move and to warn all personnel to clear the area around it. Seaman Sansone
was apparently in a position half in and half out of the mount's outboard
As the mount came to centerline, the operator stated that he applied the
brake switch and the mount jerked in a quick movement of two or three
degrees each way as it came to rest. It was at this moment that Sansone was
seen to fall into the water. "Man Overboard" was immediately sounded. Seaman
Sansone was seen by several ship's crew to be swimming toward one of the
life rings and appeared to be unhurt. He sank beneath the surface several
times before reaching any ring, and was not seen again after going under the
fifth time. A rescue helicopter was overhead just as he disappeared below
the water's surface.
Search and rescue efforts continued with the use of nearby units from the
USS HOEL and USS ANDERSON, but failed to produce any sign of Seaman Sansone.
He was placed in a category of Killed, Body Not Recovered. He is among
nearly 2500 Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. The
cases of some, like Sansone, seem clear - that they perished and cannot be
recovered. Unfortunately, mounting evidence indicates that hundreds of
Americans are still captive, waiting for the country they proudly served to
secure their freedom.
In our haste to leave an unpopular war, it now appears we abandoned some of
our best men. In our haste to heal the wounds of this same war, will we sign
their death warrants? Or will we do what we can to bring them home?