James Francis GilliesFirst Lieutenant
HMM-364, MAG-16, 1ST MAW
United States Marine Corps
27 July 1945 - 07 August 1970
Bardonia, New York
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The database page for James Francis Gillies
11 Sep 2003
On the night of 07 Aug 1970, two CH-46s launched from Marble Mountain on a night emergency medevac mission in the vicinity of the Que Son mountains. The lead aircraft was flown by Major Duane Jensen; the wingman was 1st Lt Robert Marshall and co-pilot 1st Lt James Gillies in YK-16 (CH-46A BuNo 152567). The two CH-46s were escorted by a pair of AH-1G Cobras. YK-16 had a volunteer Corpsman aboard (not usually the case for the wingman) in addition to its normal crew of five.
Major Jensen's pickup was accomplished without difficulty and the flight turned back toward Danang. While enroute they passed over an area where an intense firefight was underway. Almost immediately the Danang Direct Air Support Center advised Jensen of another emergency medevac near their position. It was agreed that YK-16 and the two AH-1Gs would drop off and set up for the medevac but would not actually land until Jensen returned from dropping off his wounded.
When Jensen returned, YK-16 went into the LZ - but inadvertently lifted off before the wounded were aboard. YK-16 made a second landing, loaded the wounded, and took off. It was hit about 5 seconds after lift-off, went into uncontrolled flight, crashed, and burned. Jensen immediately landed next to the burning CH-46, while the troops on the ground struggled to remove the men aboard YK-16. When everyone who could be removed had been loaded aboard, Jensen flew to the Army's 95th Evacuation Hospital.
Two of the CH-46's five crewmen died in the crash:
Jim Gillies, and the other Purple Foxes who served in Vietnam, are remembered by the women who waited at home, whether mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, or friends. Those women, the
continue to support today's Purple Foxes of HMM-364 as they serve our country.
A memorial initiated by the
Photo courtesy of Frank Gulledge.
Jim was a quiet guy. His time with the Purple Foxes was brief. He never asked for any slack and he faced his missions head on. He was a proud Marine. Jim, you are not forgotten. I will toast you once again, on Nov 10, 2003. Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice that you gave to your Marine brothers and to our country.
Any time someone does something nice for me, I also make a point to pay the favor back. Jim actually saved my life in January 1970. The incident is pretty well-known to Marine Aviation and involves a barroom fight in Angeles City, The Philippines. A Huk guard pointed a loaded .45 into my abdomen with the clear intention to blow me away. Jim spotted the move and warned me, "Doc, he has a gun!" "No shit, Gillies!" I replied. As he fired, Jim pushed the gunman aside for me, and I felt the warm blast pass by my shirt. We both headed out of the bar, post haste.
I returned home after my tour in the Marine Corps concluded in March 1970, and Jim was reassigned into county to meet a sad destiny. With regrets, this is the only favor I can never repay. I have, however, made it a habit to think of Jim with fondness every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner played. I dedicate that moment to his memory. I have asked my daughter to continue the honor to Jim after I have gone to met him above. It is the best that I can do for him.
From his Flight Sugeon,
I served with Jim in flight school and HMM-165. Jim was great guy and good friend. He was the only pilot that I knew what his future really was. It was scary.
From a friend and fellow pilot,
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
HMM-364 and the Purple Foxy Ladies,
Frank Gulledge, point man
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 12 Sep 2003
Last updated 11/24/2007