Help our POWs and MIAs
JAMES, SAMUEL LARRY
Name: Samuel Larry James
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force
Unit: 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron
Date of Birth: 24 July 1945
Home City of Record: Chattanooga TN
Date of Loss: 18 April 1973
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 134200N 1065900E (YA153151)
Status (in 1973): (none)
Other Personnel in Incident: Douglas K. Martin (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project and the P.O.W.
NETWORK - updated January 30, 1992 using one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources,
interviews with Barbara White, POW sister of Samuel James.
REMARKS: DEAD-CHARRED BODIES-FBIS
SYNOPSIS: Capt. Douglas K. Martin was the pilot, and
Capt. Samuel L. James the weapons system officer on an F4E
"Phantom" jet assigned the task of marking a target in
Cambodia with a smoke rocket on April 18, 1973. Radar
contact was lost with the aircraft during the mission
and no radio contact was made with the crew. Wingmen
observed no explosion or parachutes, and no emergency
radio signal "beepers" were heard. The wingmen did not
see the plane go down, but they did observe a new swath
cut through dense jungle nearby.
A subsequent 700-square-mile search was conducted for
the aircraft. During the search for Martin and James,
aerial photographs were taken of a probable crash site
which revealed an ejection seat, wing debris and one
main landing gear. The Air Force stated that James
"is probably a POW according to our intelligence."
A July 8, 1973 report from a South Vietnamese agent who
spoke with a refugee described three American prisoners
wearing one-piece flight suits who arrived in Kompong
Barey Hamlet in Prey Veng Province in southern Cambodia,
en route to an unnamed location near Loc Ninh in South
Vietnam. The agent contacted a Viet Cong cadre who stated
that they would be held at Loc Ninh for future exchange.
U.S. officials later denied that the July 8, 1973 sighting
report existed, although James' father saw it himself in
James' file when in Thailand in October, 1973. Mr. James
also spoke with the wingmen. They all agreed that the crew
could have survived.
A Cambodian broadcast report stating that the bodies of
Martin and James were found "charred" in the plane
wreckage, was dismissed in 1973 by the Defense Department
as "propaganda," and the family was told not to regard it
seriously. The documentation provided the family dated
18 APR 73 ended with "these statements are considered
propaganda in nature, Your brother is still officially
listed as missing in action. Yet, as late as 1980, the
"charred bodies" remark remain as data identifiers in
Defense Department records, with no further explanation
given to the family.
A former government official (who had access to MIA/POW
classified information) provided Sam's mother and sisiter
an unsolicited summary of another sighting report. A
hand-picked, controlled agent was sent back to check out
the first sighting report. The villagers in the area said
that the pilots had "popped out" (ejected) and were captured.
James' family has never given up hope that he is still alive,
waiting for his country to secure his freedom. His family has
worked tirelessly since the day he was shot down to bring
Both Douglas K. Martin and Samuel L. James attended the U.S.
Air Force Academy. When shot down, James was wearing a POW
bracelet bearing the name of a missing Academy friend,