SUYDAM, JAMES LAWRENCE
Name: James Lawrence Suydam
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army
Unit: Company A, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade
Date of Birth: 04 October 1948 (Easton PA)
Home City of Record: Phillipsburg NJ
Date of Loss: 09 October 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 110546N 1070433E (YD267273)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: Jimmy R. Garbett; Raymond G. Moore; Dallas A.
Driver; James H. Turner; (all missing). WO Kilbourne (the pilot - survived);
unnamed crew chief, (survived immediate crash, later drowned - remains
recovered); CW4 James W. Bailey (aircraft commander - remains recovered)
REMARKS: IN RIV - 2 REMS RCV - NSUBJ - J
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. 2020
SYNOPSIS: On October 9, 1969, a UH1H helicopter crew and passengers were
attempting an extraction from a mined pickup zone in eastern Long Khanh
Province, South Vietnam near the shores of the Song Dong Nai River.
During the extraction attempt, the helicopter's rotor blade struck trees,
causing the loss of rotor RPM's and lift capability. The helicopter began
losing altitude, turned right and headed west and downriver in an attempt to
regain air speed. Shortly thereafter, the aircraft struck 15-20 feet of water
in an almost level attitude, and sank on its left side in less than 10 seconds.
Immediate and continuous air and water searches, loudspeaker broadcasts, and
pamphlet distributions were conducted during the period of 9-15 October and
19-21 October, suspended October 16-18 only because of poor weather conditions.
No recovery was made of any of those missing from the aircraft, but the remains
of two personnel aboard were located and subsequently identified.
A LRRP swimmer trying to inspect the site had difficulty staying afloat even
with a rope. The individual reported that equipment seen on the shore after the
crash appeared to be alternately submerged and then reappear. It could not be
determined at the time how many persons escaped the aircraft. One who was known
to escape (unnamed in Army records) reported that he could not make it to shore
and went under. Another survivor reported seeing him go down within 3-4 feet of
him, but never saw him again. One of the individuals who was initially seen to
survive, later drowned or was lost in the incident.
The only survivor of the original crash was WO Kilbourne, the pilot. The two
remains located were identified as the crew chief, who had survived the
immediate crash, but later drowned. CW4 James W. Bailey, the aircraft
commander, was lost and remains recovered.
The waters of the Song Dong Nai River were swift and treacherous. It is
particularly tragic that men who survived an aircraft would drown trying to
reach safety. Driver, Garbett, Moore and Turner were listed as Killed, Body Not
Recovered. Since their remains were never found, they are listed with honor
among the missing.
Unlike the crew of the UH1H, many of the cases of missing Americans in
Southeast Asia have no clear resolution. Some were known to have been captives,
but simply did not come home. Others were alive and well the last time they
were seen. Reports continue to be received on some, specifically by name and
location. Many authorities believe that there are hundreds still alive being
held against their wills.
Although the U.S. has named the resolution of the POW/MIA issue of "highest
national priority", little seems to have been done for those who wait for their
country to secure their freedom.