Remains ID announced 08/03/2007
Name: James Henry Ayres
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand
Date of Birth: 30 June 1937
Home City of Record: Pampa TX
Date of Loss: 03 January 1971
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165400N 1055300E (WD940685)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: 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 fire prior to its
second pass over the target area. No parachutes were observed, and no
emergency radio beeper signals were detected. The loss occurred 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 occurred, 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 until 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 towards 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 occurred 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.
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
August 03, 2007
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public/Industry(703) 428-0711
Airmen Missing in Action from Vietnam War are Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced
today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the
Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families
for burial with full military honors.
They are Lt. Col. James H. Ayres, of Pampa, Texas, and Lt. Col. Charles W.
Stratton, of Dallas, Texas, both U.S.Air Force.Ayres will be buried Aug. 10
in Pampa, and Stratton's burial date is being set by his family.
On Jan. 3, 1971, these men crewed an F-4E Phantom II aircraft departing
Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base on a nighttime strike mission of enemy
targets in Savannakhet Province, Laos.Shortly after Ayres initiated a
target run, the crew of other aircraft in the flight observed a large
explosion.No one witnessed an ejection or heard beeper signals, and
communication was lost with the aircraft.Hostile activity in the area
prevented search and rescue attempts.
In 2001, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) team, led
by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), traveled to Savannakhet
Province and interviewed Laotian citizens about their knowledge of aircraft
crash sites.One of the men led the team to what was believed to be the
Ayres and Stratton crash site.
Later that year, another U.S./L.P.D.R team began excavating the site.The
team recovered human remains and aircrew-related items. Between 2002 and
2005, joint teams visited the site six more times to complete the
excavation, recovering more human remains and crew-related items.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence,
scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory
also used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of the remains.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account
for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo
or call (703) 699-1169.


Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2007 17:43:17 -0500
Subject: Lt. Col. James Henry Ayres

Lt. Col. James Henry Ayres and Captain Stratton were laid to rest today at the National Cemetery in Dallas, Tx.
Their remains were identified 36 years after being shot down over Laos in January 1971.
Thank you to everyone who has kept their memory alive.

Robin Ayres



FAMILY is looking for an original bracelet. Please contact the POW NETWORK if you still are in possession of one.