Name: James Calvin Thomas 
Rank/Branch: Lance Corporal/US Marines
Unit: I Company, 
3rd Battalion,
7th Marines,
1st Marine Division 

Date of Birth: 27 October 1947 (Marshall, TX)
Home of Record: Safford, AZ 
Date of Loss: 03 April 1968 
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 155400N 1081000E (AT966597)
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Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing) 


SYNOPSIS:   On 3 April 1968, then Lance Corporal James C. Thomas was a rifleman assigned to I Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. His company was participating in a routine 45-man combat patrol sweeping the area for signs of enemy activity in the region south of DaNang.

The region in which the patrol was operating was densely populated and hotly contested because of its rice fields and prime location in northern South Vietnam. It was laced with rivers, canals and waterways of all sizes that flowed in all directions. Many roads of various sizes also ran in different directions connecting the hamlets and towns of the region with the major cities and US military bases. Rice fields were scattered everywhere. A rugged jungle covered mountain range rose up sharply approximately 2 miles to the west of the patrol's area of operation.

At 1555 hours, the patrol stopped for a brief rest break. As the patrol rested, members noted two Vietnamese boys, presumably from a nearly village, along the side of the road begging from the Marines. The last time any of the other patrol members saw LCpl. Thomas, he had walked over to a nearby stream outside of his unit's perimeter security position. At the time they were in a fairly open and flat area located approximately 6 miles north of An Hoa, 10 miles southwest of DaNang and 15 miles inland from the coastline, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam.

Shortly after James Thomas was last seen, the patrol moved out to continue its mission without taking a head count. When the Marines reached their next stop, a standard head count revealed one man missing, LCpl. Thomas. Once his absence was established, the situation was reported to headquarters and the patrol doubled-back to the spot where it took its rest break.

After sweeping the rest site and stream, the patrol found his helmet, pack and canteen, but found no sign of LCpl. Thomas or his weapon. They thoroughly searched the surrounding area, but again found no indication of a skirmish or struggle. James Thomas simply disappeared without a trace.

A formal search and rescue (SAR) operation was immediately initiated using both air and ground assets. These efforts also proved unsuccessful in finding any sign of the missing Marine. At the time the SAR effort was terminated, James C. Thomas was listed Missing in Action.

If James Thomas died as a result of this incident, he has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if he was captured while outside his company's perimeter his 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.

American military personnel were called upon to fly and 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.

James C. Thomas is the only Marine from Arizona missing in the Vietnam War.