James Milton Jefferson

Lieutenant Colonel
United States Air Force
11 July 1941 - 03 March 1982
Gainesville, Florida
Panel 19E Line 096


USAF Pilot

Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (2 awards), Purple Heart, Air Medal (8 awards), Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, and Vietnam Campaign medals
Jimmy Jefferson

The database page for James Milton Jefferson

09 Apr 2001


I now know that your remains were identified and you were buried at home in Gainesville, Florida. I've been to see you twice. Once to pay my respects when I became aware you had been found and then this past weekend (4/7/01) to take photos of your Veteran's memorial headstone to send to your brother and sisters. I am so glad you are not one of the still missing but I am sad you did not make it home. I'm sorry you had to give your life. I won't forget you even though we never met and when I can I will go back and visit to Gainesville and visit you. I did send your POW/MIA bracelet that I had for so many years to your brother and he really seemed appreciative.

Melodye Murphy

11 Feb 2007

James, it is now 2007 and I continue to visit you at least twice a year. It is a pretty drive from Orlando to Gainesville. You are in a beautiful and peaceful country cemetery and I think you would love it. I visit you every year to honor your service and memory even though we never met.

Melodye Murphy

13 May 2007

James, it has been 40 years since you were shot down over Vietnam. It's hard to believe it has been that long. I went to Gainesville yesterday (May 12th - the day you died) to make my respects as I try to do several times each year. You are not forgotten.

Melodye Murphy
815 Oranole Road, Maitland, Fl 32751

30 Jul 2007

Jimmy Jefferson was a gentleman - I was a fellow F-4 type in the 390th TFS from 27 Dec 66 to 1 Sept 67. I left USAF in late '72 and lived overseas for a time afterward and lost contact with everyone, and I thought everybody who got nailed during my tour got home - Mechenbier, McManus, Jayroe, Kramer, Jefferson, Stockman, Webb.

How I ended up this site, I don't know - I was researching "Bert" Brennan.

Jim and I weren't close - but I remember his class and dignity. Fly safe, Jim.

From a squadronmate,
Stan Usinowicz
470 Acoma Blvd. South #111, Lake Havasu City, Arizona 86406

22 Dec 2007


In 1967/68 I put together my application for the Air Force Academy while my Dad was the Commanding Officer for Camp San Luis Obispo, a 44,000 acre inactive Army base in California. He became increasing furious over the way politicians were micromanaging the war and at the last minute he said, "Don't go."

I had hoped when the Draft switched to the lottery system I would get a low number. I pulled 356 - I would never be called. I wanted to do something to show my support for the troops so I made a donation and got a POW-MIA bracelet. I have been wearing this bracelet for over three decades. I looked at it this morning as I have for over 10,000 times as I get in the shower and reach for the grab bar. I wonder what happened to Gen. Gaddis's bombadier/navigator on May 12, 1967; and why the Vietnamese government has never told us how they retrieved his dogtags.

Today I viewed this memorial to you for the first time. What can I say?

I'm glad you are home again, next to your parents in a beautiful cemetery. I glad they don't have to grieve over your loss any more. I thank you for your service and your sacrifice. I have thought of a thousand questions about you that will never be answered but I guess it doesn't matter any more.

I am so sorry.

May you rest in peace.

I don't know if I will ever take this bracelet off.

Steven Frank

25 Feb 2008

Long ago the sky bloomed.

From a family member,
Jamie Daniella Jefferson

A Note from The Virtual Wall

James M. Jefferson, an Air Force Academy graduate, trained as an F-4C Phantom pilot and back-seater. He was assigned to the 390th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Da Nang, SVN.

On 12 May 1967, Colonel Norman C. Gaddis, the Director of Operations of the 12th TFW, and then-1LT Jefferson were assigned to provide combat air patrol coverage for a strike force hitting the North Vietnamese Army barracks at Ha Dong. While in the target area, Gaddis' F-4C (63-7614) was hit by anti-aircraft fire. As he lagged behind the withdrawing strike force, he was shot down by a MiG-17 fighter. Jefferson, in the rear seat, ejected first, with Gaddis following. Gaddis was immediately captured by the North Vietnamese.

Shortly after being captured Gaddis was shown a name tag and other items belonging to his crewman, which were in good condition. He believed that Jefferson had also been captured, although he never found him in the prison system in which he was being held. In 1973, Gaddis was released with 590 other Americans; James Jefferson was not returned.

Partial remains of James M. Jefferson were repatriated on 14 July 1999, with identification announced on 5 June 2000. More complete remains were positively identified several months later, in September 2000. Jimmy Jefferson was laid to rest on Friday, October 20th, 2000 next to his mother and father at Evergreen Cemetery in Gainesville, Florida.

The POW Network biographies for Jefferson and Gaddis may be found at
1LT James M. Jefferson, USAF
Colonel Norman C. Gaddis, USAF

James M. Jefferson is memorialized by the
Brothers of Omega Delta Sigma ,
a national veterans' fraternity.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who remembers,
Melodye Murphy
815 Oranole Road, Maitland, Fl 32751

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 9 Apr 2001
Last updated 11/13/2010