James Edward Hackett

Specialist Four
F TROOP, 8TH CAVALRY, 11TH AVN GROUP, 1 AVN BDE
Army of the United States
19 November 1952 - 11 June 1972
Bradenton, Florida
Panel 01W Line 040

1 AVN BDE

8TH CAV RGT
Army Aircrew

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for James Edward Hackett

20 Oct 1999

Friends,

I'm writing a broadcast letter to bring as many people up to date on the status of two of our Vietnam War MIA's: 1LT James (Jimmy) R. McQuade and his scout observer SP4 James E. Hackett, both of F Troop, 8th Cavalry. While searching for possible survivors in the crash of scout platoon leader CPT Arnold (Dusty) E. Holm and his two observers, Wayne Bibbs and Robin Yeakley, McQuade's OH-6A, tail number 67-16275, was shot down in the middle of a sizeable NVA force west of Hue on 11 June 1972, during the Easter Offensive. None of the bodies were recoverable at the time due to high intensity, concentrated enemy fire. Knowing it was unlikely any crewmembers had survived the two explosive crashes was little comfort to those of us who had to abandon them. But it was the only rational decision considering the overwhelming odds F/8 found on the battle field that day.

As many of you know, Jimmy's mom, Patty, and I were pen pals for many years, but never actually met until the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend this year. Along with Jimmy's surviving brothers Jack and Jeff and sister Judi, we had a wonderful time enjoying smoked salmon, salad and wine on a cool, sunny spring day. We promised to all get together again soon after. Sadly, Patty passed away unexpectedly a few weeks later, right after I returned from the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots association annual reunion in Nashville. Wife Lynn and I joined the family at Patty's memorial in hometown Hoquiam, Washington; a small logging community on the Pacific coast. We took comfort knowing she had learned the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting office had tentatively identified Jimmy's remains in a recovery effort in Vietnam before she died. Jack and Judi had recently given blood samples to the Army for DNA analysis and we were waiting for the final results, but other hard evidence, such as the data plate from his aircraft and personal effects, indicated they had found her son.

Yesterday, Saturday October 16, Lynn and I were invited to Judi's lovely West Seattle house for another special occasion, when a representative from the Army's Mortuary Affairs office would present the official findings of the Central Identification Lab Hawaii (CILHI) to the family. Like the gathering over Memorial Day, the day was perfect and the mood festive as we enjoyed good food and spirits waiting for the big news to arrive. Instead of a stiff military officer arriving in an OD sedan, we were surprised to see a civilian arrive in a rented coupe dressed in a fine double-breasted suit. John was a bit stiff and formal at first, but was quickly put at ease with a plate of appetizers and glass of Reisling as the group made small talk on the deck outside the kitchen. After an hour or so it was time to convene around the fireplace in the living room to review the findings.

John produced a 1" spiral binder containing all information leading to McQuade and Hackett's final disposition. He apologized in advance for the heavy dose of technical lingo and acronyms, but was required to read several pages from the report verbatim. We listened intently as he described the DNA and dental comparisons and circumstantial evidence. It was soon evident that, twenty-eight years since their final heroic mission, both men's remains had been successfully recovered. Then John hesitated and reached into his brief case, pulling out a small plastic bag. He then presented Judi with Jimmy's St. Christopher medalion; the same she and her mom had presented him at graduation ceremonies at Ft. Rucker when Jimmy graduated from flight school. They'd ended up in New Orleans in a grand celebration before he departed for Vietnam. The personalized inscription on the back was unmistaken. We took it out of the bag and slowly passed it around for each to inspect. I was last and held it for moment, visualizing it as hung ever present around his neck. It had been next to his breast when the LOH exploded.

After a Q&A session, the family accepted the findings as official, thus ending more than a quarter century of mystery. Satisfied, Judi signed the forms on behalf the family. Then we all convened to the dining room for a wonderful dinner. Later, John informed us that Jimmy's gunner Hackett's family had also accepted the report, so funeral arrangements would be the next step. Of the hundred-plus bone fragments and teeth recovered, some were Jimmy's and some James' but some were co-mingled and will be buried at Arlington on a future date. The families must now decide on dates and locations where the identified remains will be put to rest. It will take a couple weeks to a month at least for the military to review the families findings and make it official, but that's just a formality John said. I will inform you all on dates/locations as soon as arrangements are made so you can plan to attend if possible.

Though this is not 'official' until reviewed by an official board to make sure all the I's and T's are dotted and crossed (about 3 more weeks), I wanted to give you all the good news now as it unfolds. So please raise a glass in a silent moment to a couple more heroes who are finally coming home!

My best,
Mike Austin
Blueghost 41/23
1971-2
maustin252@aol.com



Another memorial page to Jimmy McQuade,
with photos and newspaper articles
about the burial of his remains
and the memorial service can be seen at
http://members.aol.com/spur317f/mcquade.htm

Notes from The Virtual Wall

In March 1972, the Vietnamese launched a three-pronged invasion of the South. One NVA force swept south across the DMZ, its goal apparently the conquest of the northern provinces and the seizure of Hue. A second NVA force drove from Laos into the Central Highlands, and a third effort involved a drive from Cambodia into provinces northwest of Saigon.

Fierce fighting ensued on all three fronts, with NVA success the greatest in the northern provinces. Fighting continued until June, when the North Vietnamese began withdrawing from some of their advanced positions, still holding considerable amounts of South Vietnamese territory in the northern provinces.

On June 11, 1972, CPT Arnold Holm, pilot, PFC Wayne Bibbs, gunner, and SP4 Robin Yeakley, observer, were aboard an OH-6A observation helicopter flying from Camp Eagle to the Northern Provinces of South Vietnam on a visual reconnaissance mission. The function of their "Loach" chopper was searching out signs of the enemy around two landing zones (LZ's). The OH-6 joined with AH-1G Cobra gunships as "Pink Teams" to screen the deployment of air cavalry troops. On this day, Holm's aircraft was monitoring an ARVN team insertion.

During the mission, Holm reported that he saw enemy living quarters, bunkers, and numerous trails. On his second pass over a ridge, at about 25 feet altitude, the aircraft exploded and burned. It was reported that smoke and white phosphorous grenades began exploding before the aircraft crashed. After the aircraft impacted with the ground, it exploded again. Other aircraft in the area received heavy anti-aircraft fire. No one was seen to exit the downed helicopter, nor were emergency radio beepers detected.

Another OH-6A (tail #67-16275), crewed by 1LT James R. McQuade and SP4 James E. Hackett, tried to enter the area of the crashed OH-6A, but encountered heavy fire. McQuade's aircraft was hit, and again the onboard munitions exploded prior to ground impact. The aircraft continued to burn after impact and neither crewmen left the ship before or after the crash.

No ground search was made for survivors or remains of either aircraft because of hostile fire in the area.

Five men from F Troop, 8th Cavalry, died in the two aircraft:



The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a buddy,
Mike Austin
maustin252@aol.com



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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 20 Oct 1999
Last updated 03/16/2008