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Help our POWs and MIAs

American Hero

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) 
             Category: 3 
             Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F4E 

             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. 


             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 
             him home. 

             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, 
             Dennis Pugh.
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