James, Samuel Larry, Capt

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1555C-Weapon Systems Officer
Last AFSC Group
Weapons and Munitions
Primary Unit
1972-1973, 432nd Tactical Fighter Wing
Service Years
1967 - 1973
Officer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt John Paul Jones, Sr. (JJ) to remember James, Samuel Larry, Capt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Chattanooga, TN
Last Address
Udorn RTAFB, Thailand

Casualty Date
Apr 18, 1973
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
US Air Force Academy Cemetery - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Wall/Plot Coordinates
01W 117

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]1 - Assoc. Page

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Navigator Observer (basic)

 Unit Assignments
12th Weather Squadron17th Operational Weather Squadron  - Geckos3539th Navigator Training Squadron (Cadre)307th Tactical Fighter Squadron
13th Tactical Fighter Squadron432nd Tactical Fighter Wing
  1968-1970, Detachment 12, 12th Weather Squadron
  1970-1971, 17th Operational Weather Squadron - Geckos
  1971-1971, 3539th Navigator Training Squadron (Cadre)
  1971-1972, 1531A, 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron
  1972-1973, 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron
  1972-1973, 432nd Tactical Fighter Wing
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1973-1973 Non-operation sorties/missions over Cambodia
 Colleges Attended 
United States Air Force AcademyUniversity of Texas at Austin
  1963-1967, United States Air Force Academy
  1967-1968, University of Texas at Austin
 My Aircraft/Missiles
F-4 Phantom  
  1972-1973, F-4 Phantom
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

On April 18, 1973, Captain Douglas K. Martin (pilot) and Captain Samuel L. James (weapons system officer), flying F-4E 67-0281, were marking a target for strike near Lomphat in Cambodia, 60 miles southwest of Pleiku, South Vietnam with a Willie Pete smoke rockets. There was thick haze in the target area at the time and although none of the other strike aircraft crew members saw the Phantom crash they did see a long swathe of destruction in the Jungle area when radar contact and communications were lost with the aircraft. Wingmen observed no explosion or parachutes, and no emergency radio signal "beepers" were heard. Interesting note from Hobsons Vietnam Air Losses. Aircraft 67-0281 was flown by Lt. Col. L.L. Beckers and Capt. J.F. Huwe  on 23 May 1972 of the 35th TFW when they shot down a Mig-19

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.


In 1999, remains identified by the Government as those of Captains Martin and James were returned to the United States. Captain Martin's widow and the widow and daughter of Captain James accepted the identifications and the remains were interred, with honors, in a common grave at the United States Air Force Academy (both men were graduates of the USAFA). However, Captain James' parents and sister did not accept the identification as conclusive.

Captain Samuel Larry James is remembered by his sister Barbara at


Defense Official Searching for POWs, MIAs
by Clint Cooper
Staff Writer

Robert Jones says in looking for missing servicemen that a tooth filling is as good as a fingerprint.

Working with just such body and bone fragments, Mr. Jones' Department of Defense office was responsible in 1999 for identifying and returning the remains of 67 U.S. servicemen who had been listed as missing in action.

Mr. Jones, deputy assistant secretary of defense for prisoners of war and missing persons, was in town Tuesday to address JROTC cadets at Red Bank High School and observe their yearly awards ceremony. He came at the request of Red Bank senior ROTC instructor James Penny, who was his close friend when they were in Special Forces together during the Vietnam War.

A combat veteran himself, Mr. Jones knows the importance of closure for families of missing servicemen.

"We will do everything we possibly can to bring them home," he said.

Sam James of East Brainerd wishes he could believe that.

Mr. James' son, Air Force Capt. Samuel Larry James, was piloting a two-man F-4 when he was shot down on a bombing raid to Cambodia on April 18, 1973. He was listed as missing until 1999, when the government informed Mr. James that bone fragments and three teeth had been found and identified as his son's.

Mr. James requested DNA proof, but the Air Force turned him down.

"They said they had all the proof they needed," Mr. James said.

The remains of Capt. James were subsequently buried at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., after authorization was given by his former wife. Mr. James, his wife and their daughter did not attend. Today, the Jameses fly a prisoner of war flag and an American flag in their yard. They cling to the hope their son's body will be found.

"We're saying they did not prove to us that it was him," said Mr. James, himself a veteran of World War II.

Mr. Jones said he understood the Jameses' plight, but he said the next of kin has primary responsibility for direct disposition of remains.

"There's a difference of opinion," he said. "It's one of the terrible things we're confronted with. We understand the emotionalism and the difficulties it causes. We respect that. We really do."

Mr. Jones' office lists 78,000 servicemen missing from World War II, 8,216 from the Korean War, 124 from the Cold War and 2,028 from the Vietnam War.

The assistant secretary says it is the country's "moral obligation" to do its utmost to bring home the remains of as many as possible.

© Chattanooga (TN) Times-Free Press
10 May 2000
Reproduced under 17 USC §107

PersonID 19671900
Name James, Samuel Larry
Branch USAF
Rank Captain
Graduation 1967
KIA Date 4/18/1973
Squadron CS 23
Home Town Chattanooga
Home State TN
High School East Ridge HS, Chattanooga, TN
High School Activities Football, Wrestling, National Honor Society
Post High School  
Academy Experiences Supt's List, Wrestling, Ski Club
Academic Degree Major BS - Basic Sciences - USAFA, Grad Student, Meteorology Major - Univ of Texas
Active Duty Assignments Grad Student, Navigator Training, Weather Officer, Navigator F-4E, Weapons Systems Officer F-4E
KIA Conflict Vietnam
Combat Information F-4E, 13th Tac Ftr Sq, 432 Tac Recce Wg, Udorn AB, Thailand
Killed In Action Mission Crashed near Lomphat, Northeast Cambodia, 60NM southwest of Pleiku, RVn while marking targets for daylight strike misson.
Next of Kin Jennifer L. James, Wife, Melissa L. James, Daughter, Sam E. James, Father, Virgie M. James, Mother
Burial Site USAF Academy 04/18/1999
MIA Information MIA 04/18/1973 to 04/11/1975; Remains Recovered, 01/1998
Aeronautical Speciality Rating Weapons Systems Officer
Notable Decoration Awards 1 AFCM, 1 PH
Not Specified
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