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Memorial Day tribute to Maj. James B. Conway – Gone But Not Forgotten

Posted by mandyf on May 27, 2012

April 12, 1966, is a day I will never forget. I wasn’t alive on that day. For most of the world it is a date that holds no special significance. For me, it is a day that will be with me until die. Many years ago when I was just a ‘o6 trainee at Lackland AFB, a group of DI’s came around and talked to us about the past. The men and women that served before us. The men and women that came home in a coffin. Those that that never came home and were declared MIA. We were encouraged to purchase a bracelet that bore the name of one of those soldiers who is MIA. You didn’t have to of course, but I saw someone on the list that went missing on my birthday, and that day I committed the date of 4/12/66 and the name James B. Conway to memory forever. This is his story.

Maj. James B. Conway

Name: James Bennett Conway Rank/Branch: O3/US Army 5th Special Forces Unit: Detachment A-253, Company B Date of Birth: 23 November 1930 Home City of Record: Franklin TN Date of Loss: 12 April 1966 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 141200N 1073627E (YA814713) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 3 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Capt. James B. Conway was a member of a combat reconnaissance patrol operating from the Special Forces Camp at Kontum when his patrol encountered enemy forces and engaged in a firefight. The patrol was at that time in the extreme southern portion of Kontum Province, near the Se San River. Following the battle, Capt. Conway could not be located. A search was initiated, but no sign of him was found. Conway was declared Missing in Action, but by 1973 was declared Killed/Body Not Recovered. James Conway is among nearly 2500 Americans who remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Many were known to have been captured, or were alive and well and in radio contact with would-be rescuers. When the peace documents were signed ending American involvement in the Vietnam War, and the general prisoner release occurred, Conway was not among those who came home. Military leaders later expressed their dismay that “some hundreds” expected to be released were not. Yet, only perfunctory efforts ensued to obtain the prisoners expected to still be held. As reports mount that have convinced many experts that hundreds of Americans are still alive in the hands of a long-ago enemy, the question arises, “Where is James Conway?” If he is one of those who are still alive, what must he be thinking of us? During the period he was maintained Missing in Action, James B. Conway was promoted to the rank of Major. Distinguished Service Cross Awarded posthumously for actions during the Vietnam War The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Infantry) James Bennett Conway, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. On 12 April 1966, Captain Conway was serving as the Senior Special Forces Advisor to a reconnaissance patrol operating in the Ia Drang Valley in the Republic of Vietnam. As the patrol screened their assigned area, they came under hostile automatic weapons fire which wounded several and halted their progress. After insuring the safety of the wounded, Captain Conway led the friendly forces in an assault which routed the Viet Cong from their positions of concealment. As the friendly forces pursued the hostile contingent, they came upon a well-positioned insurgent force of company size. Despite the hostile force’s numerical and positional advantage, Captain Conway led the patrol in successful attacks claiming many insurgent lives. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, Captain Conway courageously engaged a well-fortified insurgent machine gun position at extremely close range with grenades and small arms fire. Throughout this action, he continually exposed himself to murderous fire to insure the success of the assault. When the Viet Cong maneuvered to encircle the hard-pressed patrol, Captain Conway planned and led an evasion route in order to regroup the force and continue the attack. As the hostile machine gun fire increased, Captain Conway again exposed himself to heavy Viet Cong fire and directed effective suppressive fire with effective results. During the final stages of the friendly evasive action, Captain Conway was mortally wounded while engaging friendly troops positioned about him. Captain Conway’s extraordinary heroism and supreme sacrifice were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the military service. General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army, Pacific, General Orders No. 164 (July 19, 1966) Action Date: 12-Apr-66 Service: Army Rank: Captain Regiment: 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Division: 1st Special Forces


Service:         Army of the United States

Grade at loss:   O3

Rank:            Major

Note:            Posthumous Promotion as indicated

ID No:           O94578

MOS:             31542: Infantry Unit Commander (Special Forces Qual)

Length Service:  14

Unit:            DET A-253 (DUC CO), B CO, 5TH SF GROUP, USARV


Start Tour:      ——

Incident Date:   04/12/1966

Casualty Date:   04/12/1966

Age at Loss:     35

Location:        Kontum Province, South Vietnam

Remains:         Body not recovered

Casualty Type:   Hostile, died while missing

Casualty Reason: Ground casualty

Casualty Detail: Not Reported

ON THE WALL        Panel 06E Line 105

Gone, but never forgotten. Maj. James B. Conway will remain alive in my heart and mind until the day I die. Without ever having met him, Maj. Conway became my guardian angel more so than I being the one guarding his memory. For almost 15 years, I wore his name and date of loss written inside of every BDU top and dress blue shirt I owned to make sure he was always near in some way. Now, I don’t need that reminder as he lives in my heart, mind and soul. I don’t need Memorial Day to remember the major, but this year, I do want to share him with the world and remind everyone that gone never, ever, means forgotten.


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