Posted: 8/3/2005 7:19:45 PM EDT
August 08, 2005
Lost airmen home at last
Two Texas airmen who went missing in action during the Vietnam War have been identified and their remains are being returned to their families for burial.
The remains of Col. James W. Lewis, 36, of Marshall, and Maj. Arthur D. Baker, 31, of San Antonio will be buried with full military honors, the Defense Department POW/Missing Personnel Office said in a news release. Lewis will be buried in Marshall on Aug. 13, and Baker was scheduled to be buried in Longview on July 29.
“It brings it to a closure,” said Lewis’ widow, Barbara Lewis, 74, of Marshall. “I know that he’s been up in heaven for 40 years.”
Lewis and Baker had led a flight of four B-57B Canberra aircraft on a mission over Xiangkhoang province in Laos on April 7, 1965.
While the cause of the crash is unknown, enemy fire and bad weather are thought to be contributing factors, according to the government.
Air Force Officers MIA From Vietnam War are Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
They are Col. James W. Lewis of Marshall, Texas, and Maj. Arthur D. Baker of San Antonio, Texas, both Air Force. Lewis is to be buried in Marshall on August 13, and Baker is to be buried in Longview, Texas on July 29.
On April 7, 1965, Lewis and Baker led a flight of four B-57B Canberra aircraft on an interdiction mission over Xiangkhoang Province, Laos. After their B-57 initiated an attack run into heavy clouds, Lewis radioed his plane was outbound away from the target. There was no further radio or visual contact with the crew, and search and rescue missions failed to yield any evidence of the two men or their aircraft. Although the cause of the crash is unknown, enemy fire and bad weather are believed to be contributing factors.
In July 1997, a joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic team interviewed several witnesses, two of whom led the team to the crash site. Four excavations led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) from 2003 to 2004 yielded human remains and crew-related artifacts.
JPAC and Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab scientists used mitochondrial DNA to identify the remains as those of Lewis and Baker.
LEWIS. JAMES W.
Name: James W. Lewis
Rank/Branch: USAF, 03
Date of Birth: 24 July 28
Home City of Record: Marshall, TX
Name: Arthur D. Baker
Rank/Branch: USAF, O3
Date of Birth: 30 July 33
Home City of Record: San Antonio, TX
Date of Loss: 07 April 65
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 193500N 1034700E
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Remarks: Last seen on dive thru thin clouds
Source: Compiled by THE P.O.W. NETWORK 02 February 93 from the following
published sources - POW/MIA's -- Report of the Select Committee on POW/MIA
Affairs United States Senate -- January 13, 1993. "The Senate Select
Committee staff has prepared case summaries for the priority cases that the
Administration is now investigating. These provide the facts about each
case, describe the circumstances under which the individual was lost, and
detail the information learned since the date of loss. Information in the
case summaries is limited to information from casualty files, does not
include any judgments by Committee staff, and attempts to relate essential
facts. The Committee acknowledges that POW/MIAs' primary next-of- kin know
their family members' cases in more comprehensive detail than summarized
here and recognizes the limitations that the report format imposes on these
On April 7, 1965, Baker and James were crewmen on a B-57B, one in a flight
of four aircraft on an interdiction mission launched from Bien Hoa Air Base,
South Vietnam and with its target in Xieng Khouang Province, Laos. The crew
was last seen descending through thin overcast toward the target area and it
never reappeared. Extensive search and rescue efforts through April 12th
failed to locate either the aircraft or its crew.
On April 14, 1965, the New China News Agency reported the shoot down of a
B-57 approximately three miles north-northeast of the town of Khang Khay.
This was described as the first B-57 shoot down of an aircraft launched from
Both crewmen were initially reported missing in action in South Vietnam
while on a classified mission. Their loss location was later changed to
Laos. There was limited wartime reporting about U.S. aircraft losses in the
general area the crewmen were last reported but they could not be correlated
to this specific incident. U.S. intelligence continues to receive
information which may correlate to this shoot down but provides no positive
information on the fate of the crewmen.
In January 1974 Major Baker's next-of-kin requested his case review go
forward and he was declared killed in action, body not recovered, in January
1974. Lewis was declared dead/body not recovered, in April 1982. Returning
POWs were unable to provide any information on the fate of these two
Slowly but surely, they're all coming home.