Name: James Wilbourne
Rank/Branch: Captain/US Marine Corps
Age: 29
Home City:
Date of Loss: 03/  /91
Country of Loss:
Loss Coordinates:
Status: Missing in Action
Status in 2002: Presumed Dead
Other Personnel in Incident: (unknown)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 19 March 1991 from one
or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK
SYNOPSIS: During the early weeks of the Middle East war, each time a
Coalition serviceman was shot down or captured, extensive media coverage
followed. The public and POW/MIA families alike had the information they
wanted at the touch of a dial.
When Coalition POWs began being showed on Iraqi television, the world
suffered with their families as they haltingly gave coerced "peace"
statements. This propaganda effort on the part of the Iraqis actually had a
positive effect in the United States. Families at least knew their missing
loved one was alive, and could assess their mental and physical condition
from propaganda interviews.
Then the "information gap" began. The Pentagon announced that it would no
longer release any information other than name, rank, age and branch of
service of missing or captured personnel. This step was taken, they said, to
protect the well-being of prisoners and to avoid jeopardizing search and
rescue efforts for the missing.
Pentagon briefings and television reports listed the loss of aircraft and
statistics, and the human element of the war was gone. Even long after
search and rescue efforts would cease, no information was released on
missing personnel. Intelligence reports indicating "missing" people were
captured were largely ignored. In the 6 weeks following the televised
propaganda interviews by Coalition POWs, only one Coalition serviceman was
declared POW - and even then, no information was released about him.
The name of Marine Capt. James Wilbourn, age 29, appeared on Pentagon
missing lists in early March 1991. There has been no other information
released by media or government sources about him.
In early March 1991, 21 American POWs were released by the Iraqis, but James
Wilbourn was not among them. No further word of his fate has been released.
Then in mid-March, Wilbourn was declared dead. It was not announced whether
the declaration was based on the return of remains or circumstantial.
Several thousand families whose loved ones remain missing in Vietnam, Korea,
and World War II are very concerned about the "information gap" regarding
the missing and prisoners in the Middle East war. They remember being told
to "keep quiet" for the sake of their loved ones. They know that it was only
when they became actively vocal that world pressure stopped the torture and
ill treatment of their men.
They know that nameless, faceless men are easily left behind at the end of
hostilities. They are afraid that another generation of prisoners and
missing, unknown to the American public, will be abandoned to the enemy.