United States Air Force Aircrew
9 September 1966
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
26 July 2005
VIETNAM WAR MISSING IN ACTION UNITED STATES AIR FORCE OFFICERS ARE IDENTIFIED AND RETURNED TO THEIR FAMILIES AFTER 40 YEARS
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 Colonel JAMES WIMBERLEY LEWIS of Marshall, Texas, and Major ARTHUR DALE BAKER of San Antonio, Texas, both Air Force.
Lewis is to be buried in Marshall, Texas on 13 August , and Baker is to be buried in Longview, Texas on 29 July.
On 7 April 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.
Of the 88,000 Americans missing from all conflicts, 1,827 are from the Vietnam War, with 372 of those within the country of Laos. Another 756 Americans have been accounted for in Southeast Asia since the end of the Vietnam War. Of the Americans identified, 197 are from losses in Laos.
It’s been 40 long years. It will be 40 years, 3months, 22 days, and close to the hour…and he will finally be laid to rest, here in his homeland that he loved and served so well.
Thank you God for Dad:
His daughter, Valaree Baker
On 7 April 1965, Captain Arthur D Baker, Navigator and his pilot were in a B-57B Canberra aircraft, in a flight of four on an interdiction mission of enemy targets on Route 7 in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos. At about 1110 hours, the flight reached the target and was last seen initiating an attack run into heavy clouds. Another member of the flight stated that he had heard the pilot call “off target and outbound”. No further radio or visual contact was ever made. When the aircraft failed to return to Bien Hoa Air Base on schedule, a communications and ramp check was initiated, which determined that the aircraft had not landed at any other airfield in Southeast Asia. From 7-12 April 1965, the U.S. Air Force and Air America SAR forces searched the area with negative results. While carried in the status of MIA, the U.S. Air Force promoted Capt Baker to the rank of Major, before military review boards amended his status to presumed Killed in Action.
A number of intelligence reports received and evaluated during the war, though determined to be of questionable reliability, were placed in the Case 0070 file. Based on the circumstances of loss and the subsequent wartime information, the Department of Defense designated Case 0070 as a Priority, or Last Known Alive case.
It was first investigated 24 July - 11 August 1993. On 31 March 1994, a joint team continued the investigation. The purpose was to pursue information contained in the April 13, 1965 New China News Agency report that stated a B-57 had been shot down six days before near “Phou Pha Niem”. The next investigation took place on 11 May 1994. No progress was made during the next three years. During this period, JTF-FA analysts developed an extensive list of villages in the general vicinity of the reported loss location in which the next joint team should seek information about the case. Using the list, on 3 July 1997, a joint team traveled to Ban Khang Pha Niam where an eyewitness gave information about an aircraft incident and crash site located near Ban Khang Pha Mian that clearly correlated. He also claimed to have observed remains at that site. The team surveyed the site on 5 July 1997; recovering material evidence sufficient to confirm that at least one individual was aboard the aircraft at the time of impact. Procedural limitations delayed excavation of the site for nearly six years, and it would take four excavations of the site to complete the recovery effort. Excavation continued during the 80th, 81st, and 86th Joint Field Activities. During the 86th JFA the team excavated to incident sterile soil and excavation operations closed 15 November 2004. The recovery scene is located in the Annamite Mountains approximately 500 m north of Route 7 and Ban Khang Phaniam Village, Nong Het District, Xiangkhoang Province, L.P.D.R.
Analysis of the recovered material evidence and life support items indicated the aircraft lost at this site was a B-57B Canberra. The results of laboratory analysis, primarily mtDNA testing allows for some of the remains to be exclusively associated to Maj. Arthur D. Baker. Available evidence and the totality of the circumstantial evidence made available establish that Maj. Arthur D. Baker died in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos, on 7 April 1965 when the B-57B crashed.
Services for Maj Arthur D Baker, USAF will be Friday, July 29, 2005 at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel of Rader Funeral Home, Longview, TX. Following chapel services, the Military Honors Service will be at Rosewood Park Cemetery, Longview, TX. Visitation will be Thursday July 28, 2005 from 6 –8 p.m. at Rader Funeral Home.
Full Name: ARTHUR DALE BAKER
BAKER, ARTHUR DALE
Full Name: JAMES WIMBERLEY LEWIS
Date of Birth: 7/24/1928
Date of Casualty: 4/7/1965
Home of Record: MARSHALL, TEXAS
Branch of Service: AIR FORCE
Casualty Country: LAOS
Casualty Province: LZ
LEWIS, JAMES WIMBERLEY
Posted: 9 August 2006
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, August 2006