From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

James Patterson '63

Date of birth: July 14, 1940

Date of death: May 19, 1967

Age: 26

Lucky Bag

From the 1963 Lucky Bag:


From usna63.org:

On May 19, 1967 McDaniel was the pilot and Patterson the bombardier/navigator sitting to his right aboard an A6A with a mission to bomb a truck repair facility at Van Dien, Hai Duong Province, North Vietnam. The aircraft was shot down, but both crew members ejected safely from the aircraft and established voice radio contact with other aircraft in the area.

Lt. Patterson badly broke his leg upon landing, but maintained radio contact with rescue forces for a period of three days, May 19th, 20th,and 21st. They couldn't raise him on the radio on the 22nd, and cancelled further rescue efforts. On May 21, he reported that enemy forces had taken a recovery kit which had been dropped to him and that he had moved up a hill for safety. LtCdr. McDaniel was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese and taken to Hanoi.

There is much more at the site, with extensive searches for Jim decades after the war.


From Virtual Wall:

Kelly and I are classmates from the Naval Academy and we were in the first class that was allowed to go into Naval Flight Officer training direct from the Academy. I recall that there were six of us in that first group. Two of them are on this Memorial Wall.

Kelly and I were both on the USS ENTERPRISE for the WestPac cruise of 1966-67. We spent many an hour together trying to find a rationale for what and why LBJ was letting the politicans run the war. We could take pictures of the Surface-to-Air Missile Assembly site outside Hanoi, but it couldn't be bombed as they had Russian technicians there. The bicycle assembly plant two blocks down the street was OK to bomb. Kelly and I were both extemely frustrated with these restrictions.

I was in the same strike group the day Kelly was shot down. I am convinced that Kelly was captured and taken to Russia for interrogation. I am extemely proud that Kelly's brother Luck has kept the candle burning and has made several trips to North Vietnam and Russia following leads. I am proud that Kelly's classmates have had a part in financing these trips. I miss him and have his bracelet staring at me as I type this.

From a classmate, shipmate, and friend, Peter Carrothers, usna1963@aol.com, March 10, 2006

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander [then Lieutenant] James K. Patterson, United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight on 10 April 1967 as a naval flight officer serving with Attack Squadron THIRTY-FIVE (VA-35), embarked in U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CVAN-65), during aerial combat operations in Southeast Asia. Lieutenant Commander Patterson flew as leading bombardier/navigator on a predawn air strike against a vital and heavily defended steel mill in the heart of North Vietnam. By navigating his aircraft at dangerously low altitude in instrument flight conditions, over mountainous terrain, he successfully evaded enemy defenses until within six miles of the target. Disregarding four surface-to-air missiles fired as his aircraft and numerous antiaircraft-artillery shells bursting around and ahead of him, he maintained steady radar tracking of the target until bomb release, ensuring an optimum bombing solution. Because of his superb navigational and radar-bombing skill, his bombs found their mark and inflicted heavy damage upon the target. Lieutenant Commander Patterson's performance contributed materially to the disruption of enemy war materials production and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: 10-Apr-67
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Attack Squadron 35
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CVAN-65)

Class of 1963

James is one of 29 members of the Class of 1963 on Virtual Memorial Hall.