TUCKER, JAMES HALE

Name: James Hale Tucker 
Rank/Branch: Major/US Air Force 
Unit: 377 Combat Support Group 
Tan Son Nhut Airbase, South Vietnam               

Date of Birth: 29 December 1941
Home of Record: Paunee, OK
Date of Loss: 26 April 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 174000N 1062900E (XE591538)
Click coordinates to view(4) maps

Status in 1973: Missing in Action 
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: RF4C "Phantom II"
Other Personnel In Incident: Warren L. Anderson (missing) 

REMARKS:  ALL CONTACT LOST

SYNOPSIS:  The McDonnell F4 Phantom used by Air Force, Marine and Navy air wings served a multitude of functions including fighter/bomber, interceptor, photo/electronic surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two man aircraft was extremely fast (Mach 2) and had a long range, 900 - 2300 miles depending on stores and mission type. The F4 was also extremely maneuverable and handled well at low and high altitudes. It was selected for a number of state-of-the-art electronics conversions, which improved radar intercept and computer bombing capabilities enormously. Most pilots considered it one of the "hottest" planes around.

The RF4 version of the Phantom II is a reconnaissance aircraft outfitted for photographic and electronic reconnaissance missions. Other RF4s were equipped with infrared and side-looking radar that helped advance the technology of reconnaissance during the war. They were also used to fly target detection and bomb damage assessment missions throughout Southeast Asia.

On 26 April 1966,  Capt. Warren L. Anderson, pilot, and then 1st Lt. James H. Tucker, co-pilot, comprised the crew of an RF4C which was on an unarmed night photo reconnaissance mission over a heavily defended area 15 miles North of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. Their target was an anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) complex that threatened American aircraft conducting other missions in the region.

At 0215 hours, as the Phantom crossed a mountain range and descended to a lower altitude, radio and radar contact was lost by the forward radar units in South Vietnam that were monitoring the flight. When radio and radar contact could not be reestablished
with the reconnaissance aircraft, an electronic search was immediately initiated.

The last known position of the Phantom was over the densely populated and heavily defended coastal plain to the northwest of Mui Da Nhai Mountain approximately 2 miles northeast of the closest point on a single track railroad line running between Vinh and Dong Hoi, 3 miles west of Highway 1A, 3 miles south of Rao Nay River and 16 miles northwest of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam.

In addition to the electronic search, a visual search and rescue (SAR) operation was implemented as soon as daylight permitted. The SAR effort continued for several days, but was terminated when no trace of the aircraft or its crew was found. At the time the formal search operation was concluded, Warren Anderson and James Tucker were immediately reported as Missing in Action.

If Warren Anderson and James Tucker died as a result of their loss incident, each man has the right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country. However, if they survived, 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 haven 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.