James Michael Lyon, US Army
Brigade, 101st Airborne Division
Date of Birth:08 March48
Home City of Record:
Date of Loss: 05 February
Country of Loss: South
Loss Coordinates: 163045N
Status (in 1973):
Prisoner of War
Other Personnel in
Incident: Tom Y. Kobashigawa, John W. Parsels, Daniel H. Hefel
REMARKS: 700206 DIC;
Listed on "The Wall"
Panel 14W -- Line 104
At 1530 hours on February 5, 1970, Capt. James M. Lyon, pilot,
Capt. John W. Parsels, copilot, SP5 Tom Y. Kobashigawa, crew
chief, and SP4 Daniel Hefel, door gunner, were flying a UH1H
helicopter (serial #68-16441) on a maintenance mission from Hue
to Phy Bai, South Vietnam. When the aircraft was about 18 miles
northwest of Hue City, the helicopter caught fire and crashed
(due to a malfunction). Capt. Lyon was thrown clear of the
aircraft and was burned extensively over his body and part of
his right leg. His leg was severed four inches below the knee.
The other crew members were also injured and could not take
evasive action. They were captured at 1630 hours by NVA troops
and spent the night near the crash site.
Throughout the night, the
crew members heard their pilot yelling and moaning in pain. At
0600 hours, Capt. Lyon moaned and then a shot was heard from his
position about 30 feet from the aircraft wreckage. No other
outcry from Capt.Lyon was heard, and the others believed that he
had been killed by the guard.
Two weeks later, Capt.
Parsels was told by 1Lt. Lee Van Mac (an NVA commander at "Camp
Farnsworth") that Capt. Lyon died from his wounds and was
buried at the crash site. 1Lt. Lee Van Mac gave Capt. Parsels
the personal effects of Capt. Lyon, including his ID card and
several photos which appeared to be of Lyon's wife.
In late March, 1973,
Parsels, Hefel and Kobashigawa were released from prisons in
North Vietnam. In their debriefings, all three concurred on the
story that Lyon had apparently been shot. They considered it a
mercy killing, because their pilot had been so seriously injured
that they doubted that he could survive.
Curiously, the Vietamese
have not returned the body of Capt. James M. Lyon, nor have they
been forthcoming with information concerning him. Tragically,
Capt. Lyon has been a prisoner of war for nearly 20 years -
alive or dead.
Even more tragic are the
thousands of reports that continue to flow in indicating that
some hundreds of Americans are still prisoner in Indochina.
It's long past time we
brought our men home.
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