My Adopted POW
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James Henry Ayres (04) Major

United States Air Force

34TH Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand

Born: 30 June 1937

Home City: Pampa, Texas

Date of Loss: 03 January, 1971

Country of Loss: Laos

Loss Coordinates: 165400N 1055300E (WD940685)

Status (in 1973) Missing In Action

Category: 2

Aircraft: F4E

Refno: 1688

Other Personnel in Incident: Charles W. Stratton (Missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 March 1990 with the assistance of one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.

Synopsis: On January 3, 1971, a flight of two aircraft departed Korat Airbase Thailand for an operational mission over Laos. Both aircraft were the reconnaissance version of the Phantom fighter bomber aircraft. The crew aboard the lead aircraft was Major James H. Ayres, pilot, and Capt. Charles W. Stratton, weapons systems officer.

During the mission, which took the flight over Savannakhet Province, Laos, Ayres' aircraft was seen to crash and explode in a ball of firre prior to its second pass over the target area. No parachutes were observed, and no emergency radio beeper signals were detected. The loss occured about 8 miles southeast of the city of Ban Muong Sen.

Ayres and Stratton are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. During the course of American involvement in the war, the Pathet Lao stated on a number of occasions that they held "tens of tens" of American prisoners and that those captured in Laos would also be released from Laos. Unfortunately, that release never occured, because the U.S. did not include Laos in the negotiations which brought American involvement in the war to an end. The country of Laos was bombed by U.S. forces for several months following the Peace Accords in January 1973, and Laos steadfastly refused to talk about releasing our POWs untill we discontinued bombing in their country.

After the war ended, 591 Americans were released from communist prison camps in Southeast Asia, but NOT ONE American held in Laos was released. Even though family members of the men still missing did their best to keep their men's plight in the public eye, these "tens of tens" were largely forgotten

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government, many of them relating to men lost in Laos. Tiny steps toward recognition of the communist Lao government have been taken over the years, but no effort to negotiate the freedom of any Americans still alive has been made

In 1988, however, the U.S. agreed to "grease the wheels for the humanitarian construction of medical clinics to help improve U.S./Laos relations. In return, the Lao agreed to excavate crash sites on a regular basis. Still, no acknowledged negotiations have occured which would free any living American POWs in Laos. If, as thousands of reports indicate, Americans are still alive in Indochina as captives, then the U.S. is collaborating in signing their death warrants. it's time we found the means to bring our men home

I Promise I Will Never Forget The Soldiers That Fought For Our Country And Our Way Of Life

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