Widdis, James Wesley, Jr., Lt Col Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1043L-Pilot
Last AFSC Group
Aircrew
Last Unit
1968-1969, Air Force Wings/56th Special Operations Wing
Service Years
1961 - 1969
Lieutenant Colonel

 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
Rhode Island
Rhode Island
Year of Birth
1939
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Newark, New Jersey
Last Address
Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand

Casualty Date
Mar 23, 1969
 
Cause
Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Location
Laos
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
United States Air Force Academy Cemetery - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Wall/Plot Coordinates
28W 022

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Aviator (Senior)



 
 Unit Assignments
Training UnitsAir Transport Units/84th Air Transport SquadronTraining Units/3645th Student SquadronAirlift Units/4th Military Airlift Squadron
Special Operations Units/609th Special Operations SquadronAir Force Wings/56th Special Operations Wing
  1962-1962, 1531, Training Units/3611th Pilot Training Squadron
  1962-1962, 1521A, Training Units/3535th Navigator Training Squadron
  1962-1966, 1535H, Air Transport Units/84th Air Transport Squadron
  1966-1967, 0006, Training Units/3645th Student Squadron
  1967-1967, 1045L, Airlift Units/4th Military Airlift Squadron
  1968-1969, 1225Z, Special Operations Units/609th Special Operations Squadron
  1968-1969, Air Force Wings/56th Special Operations Wing
 My Aircraft/Missiles
C-141 Starlifter  A-26 Invader  
  1967-1968, C-141 Starlifter
  1969-1969, A-26 Invader
 Combat and Operations History
  1961-1969 Cold War Era
  1969-1969 Operations 1961-1965/Non-operation sorties/missions over Laos
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
 
   
The Ban Karai Pass was one of several passes through the mountainous border of Vietnam and Laos.  U. S. aircraft flew through them regularly, and many aircraft were lost.  On the Laos side of the border coursed the " Ho Chi Minh Trail", a road heavily traveled by North Vietnamese troops moving material and personnel to their destination through the relative safety of neutral Laos.  The return ratio of men lost in and around the passes is far lower than that of those men lost in more populace areas, even though both were shot down by the same enemy and the same weapons.  This is partly due to the extreamly rugged terrain and the resulting difficulty in recovery.

   The Douglas A-26 was a twin engine attack bomber with World War II service.  In Vietnam, it served the French in the 1950s and also the U.S. in the early years of American involvement in Southeast Asia.  In 1966, eight A-26s were deployed to NaKhon Phanon (NKP) to perform hunter-killer missions against truck convoys in Southern Laos.

   Some of these A-26s were assigned to the 609th Special Operations Squadron at NKP.  On March 23,1969, an A-26A departed NKP on a combat mission with a crew consisting of Capt. James W. Widdis jr., pilot, and Capt. Robert C. Davis, navigator.  As the two were about 15 miles west of Ban Karai Pass, the aircraft was struck by hostile fire.

   No parachutes were seen and no beepers were heard, but the opportunity existed for the two to safely eject, and they were listed as "Missing In Action".  Davis was determined presumed dead in 1975 and Widdis  in 1978.  During the period they were listed missing, Widdis was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and Davis to Major.

   AIR FORCE Lt. Col. JAMES W. WIDDIS jr. AND AIR FORCE MAJOR ROBERT C. DAVIS, LOST MARCH 23,1969 IN LAOS.  JOINT FIELD ACTIVITIES IN 1994 AND 1995 RESULTED IN THE RECOVERY OF "AIRCRAFT WREAKAGE AND HUMAN REMAINS.  THE REMAINS OF BOTH MEN WERE INCLUDED IN A GROUP REMAINS IDENTIFICATION.  MITOCHONDRIAL DNA TESTING AIDED IN CONFIRMING THE IDENTIFICATION OF DAVIS".  DEFENSE POW/MIA WEEKLY UPDATE OCTOBER 30,1996.



   
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 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialMilitary Order of the Purple Heart
  1969, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2014, Military Order of the Purple Heart - Assoc. Page
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