• pine hill
  • Camden
  • January 02, 1950
  • December 22, 1969
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SSGT
  • MIA
  • Cambodia


James Edward Kennedy was born on January 2, 1950, in Woodbury, NJ.  His home of record is Pine Hill, NJ.

He entered the US Army where he was assigned to the 57th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group and he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSGT).

Kennedy has been listed as missing in action since December 22, 1969.

Synopsis (from the POW Network) as to the circumstances behind being listed as MIA:
On December 22, 1969, SP4 James E. Kennedy, door gunner; WO Donald D. Burris Jr., pilot; WO John H. Hunsicker, aircraft commander; and SP5 Timothy A. Purser, crew chief; were the crew of a UHIC helicopter on a combat support mission when it developed mechanical problems and crash landed. 

Official records differ as to the location of the crash.  US Army casualty and Joint Casualty Resolution Center records indicate that the crash was in Cambodia, yet Defense Department, State Department and other records indicate that the crash occurred near the border of Attopeu and Saravane Provinces in Laos, some 30-35 miles north of the closest point in Cambodia.  Coordinates 152029N 1972941E are that location.  The locality of YA678975 is undoubtedly Cambodia.

It is possible that their combat support mission was in Cambodia, and the subsequent rescue flight took a circular northwesterly course around the mountains in northern Cambodia along the Laos border, circled back east towards Dak To (its destination).  Some records pinpoint the actual location of loss at the beginning of the flight, while others record it during flight.

When the aircraft landed, Burris, Purser, and Hunsicker had survived the crash, but they could not locate James Kennedy.  A search of the general area revealed no trace of SP4 Kennedy and he was not trapped in the wreckage.  (As door gunner, and at a position on the side of the main cargo area of the aircraft positioned at an open door, Kennedy may have decided to bail out of the descending aircraft, or may have fallen.  Since the gunners were generally strapped into the frame of the helicopter - this seemed unlikely - thus becoming separated from the others.)

Minutes after the helicopter crashed, a recovery helicopter arrived in the area and lowered ropes with McGuire rigs attached through the dense jungle to the downed men.  The survivors were not trained in the proper use of this equipment, and SP5 Purser fell out of his rig a few feet off the ground.  WO Burris and WO Hunsicker remained in their rigs and were lifted out, and the helicopter started toward Dak To, with the two rescued men still on the ropes.  Five minutes into the flight, Burris lost his grip on the rope and fell from an altitude of 2500 - 3000 feet.  The rescue helicopter continued to the nearest landing area.

A search and rescue team was inserted into the crash site area and recovered Purser, who was injured.  The team searched widely for SP4 Kennedy, but found no trace of him, and concluded their search on December 25, 1969.

Information provided by the POW Network and NJVVMF.


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