Name: James Richard Thomas
Rank/Branch: E6/US Air Force
Unit: Pararescue, Da Nang
Date of Birth: 05 July 1943
Home City of Record: Ft. Walton Beach FL
Date of Loss: 25 November 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 103800N 1064800E (XS953730)
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Other Personnel In Incident: none missing
Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data
from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources,
interviews.Copyright 1991 Homecoming II Project.
SYNOPSIS: Jim Thomas joined the
Air Force when he was 18 and was assigned duty as an aircraft mechanic.
While he was stationed in Hawaii, he was ableto train for pararescue, and subsequently assigned to a
pararescue Squadron at DaNang, Vietnam.
On November 25, 1971, while on
a TDY assignment, Jim was on a rescue mission which successfully
retrieved 13 soldiers whose helicopter had been shot down. Jim's chopper took ground fire during the
rescue, and the crew stopped at a forward base camp to make sure the chopper was safe to fly. The soldiers
got off at that time.
On the flight back to its home
base at Bien Hoa, the chopper took more fire and the pilot was hit. It
slow descent and impacted in a river, breaking in two. Three crew members were found dead. The two crew
members standing next to Jim both got out and were recovered by friendly forces. A local fisherman who
saw the crash said a third man, wearing a white t-shirt, also escaped. Jim was the only one wearing a white
t-shirt. One side of the river was controlled by friendly forces, and the other by enemy troops.
When American Prisoners of War
were released in 1973, Jim Thomas was not among them. He remains
Since the war ended, over 10,000
reports have been received concerning Americans still in captivity in
Southeast Asia, but the U.S. has been unable to secure freedom for any of those who remain. Jim's wife and
daughters wonder if one of them is Jim. Isn't it time they knew?