Name: James Blair White
Rank/Branch: Major/US Air Force
Unit: 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron 
Takhli Airbase, Thailand 

Date of Birth: 14 March 1942
Home of Record: St. Petersburg, FL
Date of Loss: 24 November 1969
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 193500N 1033100E (UG318745)
Click coordinates to view maps

Status in 1973: Missing In Action
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105D "Thunderchief"
Other Personnel in Incident: (None Missing)


SYNOPSIS:   The principle Air Force tactical strike aircraft during the Vietnam War was the Republic F105 Thunderchief, nicknamed a "Thud.". Mass-produced after the Korean War, it served throughout Southeast Asia, particularly during Rolling Thunder operations.

On 24 November 1969, then Capt. James B. White was the pilot of an F105D, call sign "Shark 02," that departed Takhli Airbase at 1501 hours as the #2 aircraft in a flight of two. Their mission identifier was "Barrel Roll." Weather conditions consisted of a thin overcast of clouds with the cloud base at 6,500 feet and visibility of 5 to 6 miles. The target was known enemy positions in rugged, jungle covered mountains approximately 10 kilometer south of Ban Ban, Xiangkhouang Province, Laos.

Once they arrived in the target area, Shark flight made contact with the on-site Forward Air Controller (FAC) who cleared them in to attack the communist positions. Shark Lead pulled off target on his first pass and stayed below the clouds while Capt. White made his run over the target and released his ordnance, then pulled off target normally. After conferring with the FAC, Shark Lead instructed his wingman to make a second pass. James White replied that he was on top of the clouds and for Lead to watch out for him as he descended through them for his next pass. This was the last contact anyone had with Capt. White. When Lead could not establish communication with Shark 02 on any radio frequency, including Guard channel, an electronic search was immediately initiated. No emergency beeper was heard and no parachute was sighted during the aerial search.

Over the next three weeks continuous search and rescue (SAR) efforts located the possible crash site of Shark 02 approximately 20 kilometers west-northwest of Ban Ban, 11 kilometers north of Nong Pet and 3 kilometers north of Ban Xaophay. A ground search team was inserted into the rugged mountain site where they found only very small pieces of aircraft wreckage that could not be positively identified as belonging to the missing Thunderchief. Further, there was no sign of Capt. White in or around the wreckage. The organized search was suspended on 18 December 1969 due to the critical tactical situation in the area. At that time James White was formally listed Missing in Action.

James White is among the nearly 600 Americans who disappeared in Laos. Many of these men were known to be alive on the ground. The Laotians admitted to holding "tens of tens" of American Prisoners of War, but these men were never negotiated for either by direct negotiation between our countries or through the Paris Peace Accords which ended the war in Vietnam because Laos was not a party to that agreement.

Since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government. Many of these reports document LIVE American Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.

Military men in Vietnam and Laos were called upon to fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured. It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.