James served as a - Sergeant - Grade E5 - Army - Drafted Selective Service
He was 21 years old at the time of his death
Jim was born on October 4, 1948 in Phillipsburg, NJ.
His tour of duty began in Vietnam on April, 1969
Jim served with Company A, 2nd Platoon, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry,
199th Infantry Brigade
Jim died on October 9, 1969 in Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam
His death was a result of a Non Hostile Helicopter Crash in which Jim was a passenger. A UH1H helicopter crew and passengers were attempting an extraction of soldiers from a mined pickup zone in eastern Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam near the shores of the Song Dong Nai River. During the extraction attempt, the helicopter's blades struck trees, resulting in a crash in the river. The crash took the lives of Jimmy R. Garbett, Raymond G. Moore, Dallas A. Driver, James H. Turner, James Albert Bailey, James Lawrence Suydam and Pfc. Robert Fields Jr.. All were listed as missing in action except for James W. Bailey and Robert Fields Jr. whose's remains were recovered. The pilot, WO1 Steven Kilhourne and Spc.4 O. Cowherd were the only survivors.
"Please see incident reports below"
Jim's religion was Episcople Anglican. He was single, not married
Jim was a 1966 graduate of Phillipsburg High School
Jim's name is listed on Panel 07W --- Line 124
of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.
"Rest In Peace Jim You Are Missed By All Who Knew You"
Incident Report October 9, 1969
"James Lawrence Suydam"
SUYDAM, JAMES LAWRENCE
Name: James Lawrence Suydam
Rank/Branch: Sergeant/US Army
Unit: Company A, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade
Date of Birth: 04 October 1948 (Easton, PA)
Home of Record: Stephens City, VA. Org. Phillipsburg, N.J.
Date of Loss: 09 October 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 110546N 1070433E (YD267273)
Status in 1973: Killed/Body Not Recovered
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D "Iroquois"
Other Personnel In Incident: Jimmy R. Garbett; Raymond G. Moore; James H. Turner; Dallas A. Driver; (missing). WO Kilbourne (rescued); CW4 James Albert Bailey, an unnamed crew chief and unnamed passenger (remains recovered)
REMARKS: IN RIV - 2 REMS RCV - NSUBJ - J
SYNOPSIS: By early 1967, the Bell UH1 Iroquois was already the standard Army assault helicopter, and was used in nearly every "in-country" mission. Better known by its nickname "Huey," the troop carriers were referred to as "slicks" and the gunships were called "Hogs." It proved itself to be a sturdy, versatile aircraft which was called on to carry out a wide variety of missions including search and rescue, close air support, insertion and extraction, fire support, and resupply to name a few. It usually carried a crew of four.
On 9 October 1969, CW4 James Albert Bailey, aircraft commander; WO Kilbourne, pilot; an unnamed crewchief; and SP5 James H. Turner, door gunner; comprised the crew of an UH1H helicopter. The members of the flight crew were assigned to the 118th Aviation Company, 145th Aviation Battalion, 12th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. The aircrew was conducting an extraction mission for a ground unit from a mined landing zone (LZ) located on the bank of the Song Dong Nai River. Sgt. Raymond G. Moore, Sgt. Dallas A. Driver, Sgt. James L. Suydam and Sgt. Jimmy R. Garbett were 4 of 5 members of a ground unit being extracted. The patrol members were assigned to Company A, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade.
The Song Dong Nai River ran generally east/west through rugged jungle covered mountains and the extraction point was located approximately 14 miles east of the South Vietnamese/Lao border and 33 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ). It was also 16 miles south-southwest of Quang Tri, 21 miles southeast of Khe Sanh and 28 miles west-northwest of Hue, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam.
After picking up the 5 members of the ground unit, WO4 Bailey started to maneuver away from the riverbank when the helicopter's rotor blades struck some trees resulting in a loss of rotor RPM and lift capability. As the aircraft began loosing altitude, James Bailey and WO Kilbourne were able to turn the aircraft toward the right and headed west down the Song Dong Nai River in an attempt to gain airspeed, then altitude. Unfortunately shortly thereafter the Huey struck the water in an almost level flight, continued forward along the surface of the river for roughly 15 to 20 feet as it stalled out. Finally it settled into the river, rolled onto its left side and sank within 10 seconds. The aircrew was able to make an emergency radio call before the Huey was lost. Immediately both aerial and water-born search and rescue (SAR) operations were initiated in response to that call.
When SAR personnel arrived in the area of loss, they noted the river's current was flowing at a rate of approximately 10 knots, which was swift enough to carry one of the two survivors far downstream and strong enough to cause both men substantial difficulty in swimming to shore. WO Kilbourne and one of the passengers were rescued shortly thereafter. WO Kilbourne reported that in the chaotic aftermath of the Huey's sinking, he saw James Turner in the river. SP5 Turner was 3 to 4 feet away from him as they were swept downstream. The door gunner went under water and the pilot did not see him surface. The unidentified crewchief was also able to escape the submerged Huey, but drowned before reaching safety.
The SAR operation continued around the clock with the aide of firefly helicopters - those rigged with searchlights mounted on them for night operations - from 9-15 October and again from 19-21 October. The search was suspended from 16-18 October due to poor weather conditions.
In addition to visual and electronic SAR efforts, pamphlets were distributed offering a reward to local residents who provided assistance to survivors or could provide information about the fate of the missing crew and passengers. Loudspeakers were also employed to broadcast the same type of information being distributed in the pamphlets. During the massive search, only the remains of CW4 James Bailey and the Huey's crewchief were recovered.
A member of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) assigned to the overall operation, attempted to inspect the site. He swam out to the wreckage, but had difficulty staying afloat in the swift and treacherous current even with a rope to hold on to. The swimmer reported that aircraft equipment that could be seen from the shore after the crash appeared to be alternately submerged and then reappear as the river ebbed and flowed. He was unable to enter the wreckage to search for the remains of any of the passengers who might have been trapped inside of it. At the time the formal search was terminated, James Turner, Jimmy Garbett, Raymond Moore, James Suydam and Dallas Driver were listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.
Based on the circumstances of loss, there appears to be little chance SP5 Turner, Sgt. Garbett, Sgt. Moore, Sgt. Suydam and Sgt. Driver could have survived their loss. James Turner was known to be out of the aircraft and being carried downstream. If Jimmy Garbett, Raymond Moore, James Suydam and Dallas Driver were also able to exit the Huey, they most certainly would have been carried well downstream and possibly into the control of enemy forces who were known to be operating in this hotly contested region. If that did happen, their fate, like that of other Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, their fate 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 America Prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.
Above all else, as American soldiers, each man has a right to have his remains returned to his family, friends and country if at all possible. Above all else, each soldier has the right not to be forgotten by the nation he fought for and for which he may have given his life.
Military men in Vietnam were called upon to 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.
ADDITIONAL REPORT INFORMATION
Personnel in Incident: James Henry Turner; Jimmy R. Garbett; Raymond G. Moore; James L. Suydam; Dallas A. Driver; (all issing). WO Kilbourne (the pilot - survived); unnamed crew chief, (survived immediate crash, later drowned - remains recovered); CW4 James Albert Bailey (aircraft commander - remains recovered)
SYNOPSIS: On October 9, 1969, a UH1H helicopter crew and passengers were attempting an extraction from a mined pickup zone in eastern Long Khanh Province, South Vietnam near the shores of the Song Dong Nai River.
During the extraction attempt, the helicopter's rotor blade struck trees, causing the loss of rotor RPM's and lift capability. The helicopter began losing altitude, turned right and headed west and downriver in an attempt to regain air speed. Shortly thereafter, the aircraft struck 15-20 feet of water in an almost level attitude, and sank on its left side in less than 10 seconds.
Immediate and continuous air and water searches, loudspeaker broadcasts, and phamplet distributions were conducted during the period of 9-15 October and 19-21 October, suspended October 16-18 only because of poor weather conditions. No recovery was made of any of those missing from the aircraft, but the remains of two personnel aboard were located and subsequently identified.
A LRRP swimmer trying to inspect the site had difficulty staying afloat even with a rope. The individual reported that equipment seen on the shore after the crash appeared to be alternately submerged and then reappear. It could not be determined at the time how many persons escaped the aircraft. One who was known to escape (unnamed in Army records) reported that he could not make it to shore and went under. Another survivor reported seeing him go down within 3-4 feet of him, but never saw him again. One of the individuals who was initially seen to survive, later drowned or was lost in the indicent.
The only survivor of the original crash was WO Kilbourne, the pilot. The two remains located were identified as the crew chief, who had survived the immediate crash, but later drowned. CW4 James Albert. Bailey, the aircraft commander, was lost and remains recovered.
The waters of the Song Dong Nai River were swift and treacherous. It is particularly tragic that men who survived an aircraft would drown trying to reach safety. Driver, Garbett, Moore and Turner were listed as Killed, Body Not Recovered. Since their remains were never found, they are listed with honor among the missing.
AIRCRAFT WAS ON A COMBAT ASSAULT OPERATION. DURING THE MORNING THE AIRCRAFT HAD BEEN MAKING INSERTIONS AND EXTRACTIONS IN VARIOUS LZ'S AND PS'S. AT 1300 HOURS AIRCRAFT SHUT DOWN FOR LUNCH AT BLACK HORSE. THE FLIGHT CRANKED AGAIN AT 1415. EACH AIRCRAFT TOOK ON A FULL LOAD OF FUEL, 1400 LBS. AT 1420 THE FLIGHT LEFT BLACK HORSE ENROUTE TO THE LZ TO EXTRACT TROOPS. THE FLIGHT TOOK APPROXIMATELY 20 MINUTES. THE LX WAS A THREE-SHIP LZ. CW BAILEY'S AIRCRAFT WAS IN THE CHALK 6 POSITION, MAKING HIM THE LAST AIRCRAFT IN THE SECOND GROUP OF THREE. CW BAILEY LANDED HIS AIRCRAFT IN THE CENTER OF THE LZ WITH NO TROUBLE AND LOADED FIVE U.S. TROOPS ABOARD HIS SHIP. AT THIS TIME HE PERFORMED A THREE FOOT HOVER CHECK AND ACCORDING TO THE PILOT THE RPM BLED DOWN TO 6400. THE SHIP WAS THEN RETURNED TO THE GROUND AND ALL TROOPS REMAINED ON THE AIRCRAFT. NO ATTEMPT TO TAKEOFF WAS MADE UNTIL THE OTHER TWO SHIPS HAD CLEARED THE LZ, AND THEIR ROTOR WASH HAD DISSIPATED. CW BAILEY DID NOT REPOSITION TO UTILIZE THE FULL LENGTH OF THE LZ, BUT MADE HIS TAKEOFF FROM THE GROUND FROM THE POINT OF LANDING. HIS TAKEOFF HEADING WAS APPROXIMATELY 210 WHICH OFFERED THE BEST DEPARTURE ROUTE FROM THE LZ. THE WINDS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT WERE CALM AND NOT A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR. AFTER THE AIRCRAFT HAD TRAVELED ABOUT 150 FEET, THE RETREATING ROTOR BLADE STRUCK A BAMBOO THICKET WITH BAMBOO THAT WAS THREE INCHES IN DIAMETER. THE BAMBOO WAS FORTY-FIVE FEET TALL AND THE ROTOR BLADE STRUCK THE BAMBOO 21 FEET FROM THE GROUND. AT THE TIME OF THE ROTOR STRIKE THE RPM WAS 6000. THE AIRCRAFT PICKED UP A SEVERE VIBRATION AFTER STRIKING THE BAMBOO. THE AIRCRAFT CONTINUED ON A STRAIGHT COURSE AFTER THE BLADE STRIKE FOR APPROXIMATELY 75 METERS. THE AIRCRAFT COMMANDER THEN MADE A RIGHT TURN AND MADE A BRIEF RADIO CALL STATING HE WAS GOING IN THE RIVER. AT THIS TIME, IT WAS OBSERVED THAT CW BAILEY ZEROED THE AIRSPEED AND ALLOWED THE AIRCRAFT TO SETTLE IN THE WATER WHILE HE WAS APPLYING FULL PITCH. THE AIRCRAFT STARTED A ROLL TO THE LEFT. THE RETREATING BLADE STRUCK THE WATER, BROKE, CAME AROUND THE MAST AND LODGED IN THE RIGHT FRONT OF THE FUSELAGE. AT THE TIME OF IMPACT, THE FORCE OF THE BLADE STRIKING THE WATER CAUSED THE TRANSMISSION TO TEAR LOSE FROM ITS MOUNTS AND COME PARTIALLY THROUGH THE FIRE WALL. AS THE AIRCRAFT SETTLED INTO THE WATER THE TAIL ROTOR STRUCK THE WATER CAUSING THE TAIL ROTOR DRIVE SHAFT TO TWIST AND FINALLY BREAK AT THE 42 DEG GEAR BOX. THE AIRCRAFT CONTINUED TO ROLL TO THE LEFT UNTIL IT WAS COMPLETELY INVERTED. IT STAYED AFLOAT UPSIDE DOWN FOR APPROXIMATELY 7 TO 10 SECONDS, THEN IT CONTINUED TO ROLL TO THE LEFT SIMULTANEOUSLY SINKING NOSE FIRST. THE AIRCRAFT CAME TO REST UNDER THE WATER WITH ONLY SIX FEET OF ROTOR BLADE REMAINING ABOVE THE SURFACE. AS THE AIRCRAFT BEGAN TO SETTLE INTO THE RIVER, WO KILBOURNE UNSNAPPED HIS SEAT BELT AND JUMPED FROM THE AIRCRAFT BEFORE THE BLADE STRUCK THE WATER. HE TOOK OFF HIS BODY ARMOR BUT DID NOT DISCARD IT AND BEGAN TO SWIN TOWARDS THE SHORE. HE FOUND SP4 COWHERD A FEW FEET AWAY AND GAVE HIM HIS BODY ARMOR SINCE HE WAS CONFIDENT OF HIS ABILITY TO SWIM TO SHORE AND SP4 COWHERD WAS HAVING DIFFICULTY. WO1 KILBOURNE SWAM A LITTLE FARTHER AND NOTICED SP4 TURNER AND TRIED TO GET HIM TO GRAB A FLAK VEST THAT WAS FLOATING BY. SP4 TURNER DID NOT GRAB THE FLAK VEST, HOWEVER, AND HE WENT UNDER A FEW FEET AWAY AND WAS NOT SEEN AGAIN. WO1 KILBOURNE CONTINUED TO SWIM TOWARDS SHORE AND STOPPED ONCE TO LOOK AROUND. HE STATED THAT HE COULD SEE CW BAILEY'S FACE, BUT BAILEY WAS MUCH FARTHER OUT IN THE RIVER AND DID NOT SEEM TO BE MOVING VERY MUCH. WO KILBOURNE TURNED AND SWAN A LITTLE FURTHER WHERE HE FOUND A WATER JUG THAT HAD BEEN THROWN OUT BY ONE OF THE GUNSHIPS AND HE USED THIS TO HELP HOLD HIMSELF UP. AS HE LOOKED BACK OVER THE RIVER, HE COULD NO LONGER SEE CW BAILEY. SHORTLY AFTER THIS, ONE OF THE HELICOPTERS IN THE FLIGHT HOVERED DOWN AND PICKED UP WO KILBOURNE AND SP4 COWHERD AND FINDING NO ONE ELSE DEPARTED FOR THE MEDICAL FACILITIES AT LONG BINH.\\
This record was last updated on 09/20/1998