Jimmy Lee Buckley
Commander, United States Navy
Date of Birth: 3/25/1935
Date of Casualty: 8/21/1967
Home of Record: SAC CITY, IOWA
Branch of Service: NAVY
Casualty Country: CHINA
BUCKLEY, JIMMY LEE
Remains Returned 16 December 1975
Name: Jimmy Lee Buckley
Other Personnel in Incident: Robert J. Flynn
(Released POW); from other A6s:
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with
the assistance of one or more
REMARKS: 751216 PRC RETD REMAINS
SYNOPSIS: On August 21, 1967, four aircraft
launched from the USS CONSTELLATION with the assignment to strike the Duc
Noi rail yard four miles north of Hanoi. The aircraft flew from Attack
Squadron 196, based on board
The route from the coast-in point was uneventful
with the exception of some large weather cells building up. Further along
their route they received indications of launched Surface-to-Air Missiles
(SAMs) and observed bursting
Lieutenant Commander "J" Forrest G. Trembley,
bombardier/navigator of one Intruder, reported he had been hit and he was
advised to reverse course and return to the coast. He transmitted that
he was experiencing no difficulty
Two F105D aircraft, flown by Air Force Major Merwin L. Morrill and 1Lt. Lynn K. Powell, were shot down at this approximate location on August 21, 1967. It is believed that one of these is the aircraft referred to in Navy information concerning this incident. The remains of both Air Force crewmen were repatriated on June 3, 1983. While Morrill had been classified Missing in Action, it was believed that he was dead. Powell was classified as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
The division leader was hit while in the target area and two good parachutes were observed. The crew of this A6, Commander William M. Hardman and Capt. Leo T. Profilet, were captured by the North Vietnamese. Both men were released from captivity on March 15, 1973.
The other three aircraft began their egress from the target. Surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were in flight everywhere and the aircraft were maneuvering violently. A large weather cell separated them from the coast which precluded their egress further north than planned.
Another transmission was heard -- "Skipper get out" -- and the voice was recognized as that of Lieutenant Commander Trembley. A SAM detonated between two of the other aircraft, two parachutes and flying debris were observed. Lieutenant Commander Trembley transmitted, "This is Milestone 2, Milestone 1 was hit, 2 good chutes, 2 good chutes." The multitude of SAMs along with deteriorating weather may be the reason for the flight to ultimately stray well north of their planned egress track. It was believed that Lieutenant Commander Trembley's aircraft was shot down in the vicinity of the Chinese boarder.
Trembley and his BN, Dain V. Scott, were placed in a Missing In Action casualty status. Their case was discussed with the Chinese government by then Congressmen Hale Boggs and Gerald Ford, with very little information being obtained.
In their navigation around the weather, one of the remaining two A-6 aircraft observed MIGS in a run out of the overcast above Lieutenant Commander Flynn's aircraft. Requests for assistance were radioed but went unanswered. The tracking of the aircraft by airborne early warning aircraft showed them crossing the Chinese border. The maximum penetration was about eleven miles. A visual search could not be conducted due to poor weather in the vicinity of the last known position.
Later that day Peking Radio reported "two U.S. A-6 aircraft were shot down when they flagrantly intruded into China airspace and one crewman was captured". Lieutenant Commander Flynn was held prisoner in China, his pilot, Commander Jimmy L. Buckley, was reportedly killed in the shoot down.
On March 15, 1973 Lieutenant Commander Flynn was repatriated to U.S. jurisdiction in Hong Kong and returned to the United States. The ashes of Commander Jimmy L. Buckley were returned by the Chinese in December 1975.
Two Air Force bombers and three of the four Navy aircraft on the strike mission on August 21, 1967 were shot down. Trembley and Scott, of the eight Americans shot down on August 21, 1967, are the only two who remain Missing in Action.
When American involvement in the Vietnam war ended by means of peace accords signed in 1973, Americans held in countries other than Vietnam were not negotiated for. Consequently, almost all of these men remain missing. During the Nixon Administration and following administrations, relations with China have eased, but the U.S. seems reluctant to address the years-old problem of the fate of her men in China.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports have been received relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities believe there are hundreds who are still alive, held captive. Whether Trembley and Scott could be among them is not known. What seems certain, however, is that they have been abandoned for political expediency.
Photo courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006
BUCKLEY, JIMMY L