Name: James Raymond Nelson   
Rank/Branch: Staff Sergeant/US Army 
Unit: Company C, 227th Aviation Battalion,
11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) 

Date of Birth: 04 February 1942
Home of Record: Ludington, MI
Date of Loss: 11 June 1967 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam/Over water
Loss Coordinates: 131800N 1094000E (CQ555705) 
Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 5
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D "Iroquois"
Other Personnel In Incident: Ralph E. Uhlmansiek; Quentin R. Beecher; Thomas F. Riggs and Dean E. Clinton (missing) 


SYNOPSIS:  By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "Slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.

On 11 June 1967, WO1 Thomas F. Riggs, pilot; WO Dean E. Clinton, co-pilot; and SP5 James R. Nelson, crew chief; comprised the crew of a UH1D helicopter (serial 63-12958), call sign "Bamboo Viper 47," that was assigned to Company C, 227th Aviation Battalion, 11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Also onboard the Huey were passengers then WO1 Quentin R. Beecher and SP4 Ralph E. Uhlmansiek. Both of the passengers were assigned to Company B, 227th Aviation Battalion, 11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

At 1900 hours, Bamboo Viper 47 departed Landing Zone Uplift, Qui Nhon Airfield for an evening operational mission. While enroute to their destination located along the coast south of Qui Nhon Airfield, the Huey's flight path was along the coast and slightly out to sea. As the Huey flew south, it encountered bad weather. WO1 Riggs radioed the radar control centers at both Tuy Hoa Airfield and Qui Nhon Airfield requesting assistance in determining his position and directions to the closest military facility.

Both Tuy Hoa and Qui Nhon radar control centers had the Huey's image on their radarscopes. Both tried to direct the aircraft toward shore and a secure location. In addition to the verbal assistance, an airborne search and rescue (SAR) control aircraft was launched to intercept the helicopter and lead it to safety. However, in the darkness and rain, the SAR aircraft failed to locate the helicopter.

At 2057 hours, WO1 Riggs reported that they were out of fuel, and that they were willing and prepared to make a water landing. A full-scale search and rescue operation was immediately initiated using sea and aerial assets. Ground teams also searched along the shore in line with and on both sides of the current flow in case anyone or anything washed ashore. SAR operations continued until 13 June, but found no trace of the helicopter or its crew and passengers. At the time the search was terminated, Thomas Riggs, Dean Clinton, James Nelson, Quentin Beecher and Ralph Uhlmansiek were inexplicably listed Missing in Action indicating a chance of survival.

The last known location of Bamboo Viper 47 was approximately 21 miles east of the coastline, 25 miles northeast of Tuy Hoa and 41 miles southeast of Qui Nhon, Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam.

If Bamboo Viper 47 in fact went down 21 miles east of the shoreline at night, in a storm, there is virtually no chance of ever recovering the men aboard the helicopter. However, if they were much closer to shore and enemy fishing boats or junks were known to be in the area, there is a very slight chance the men could have been picked up. If that was the case, their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, could be quite different.

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.

Pilots and aircrews in Vietnam were called upon to fly 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.