James Douglas Locker

United States Air Force
25 February 1947 - 09 June 1968
Sidney, Ohio
Panel 58W Line 010

Silver Star (3 awards)

USAF Aircrew

DFC, Purple Heart (4 awards), Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

James D Locker

The database page for James Douglas Locker

19 Jan 1999


by Debbie Webster
23 Oct 2003

James Douglas Locker is the son of Robert and Dorothy Locker. He entered the Air Force after graduation from Sidney High School, Sidney, Ohio, and trained as a Pararescueman. He was assigned to the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron operating out of Danang.

On 9 June 1968, Sergeant Locker was a crewman aboard an HH-3E rescue helicopter (tail number 67-14710, call sign "JOLLY GREEN 23"), attempting the rescue of a downed Marine pilot, 1st Lt Walter R. Schmidt. JOLLY GREEN 23 was hit by enemy fire and exploded. The crewmen of Jolly Green 23 were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered.

During his tour in Vietnam Sergeant Locker was awarded three Silver Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and four Purple Hearts in addition to the usual awards for service in Vietnam. He was the only USAF pararescueman to earn to earn three Silver Stars in one tour in Vietnam. Buildings at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, and Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, were named in his honor. It is believed that the awards Sergeant Locker earned while in Vietnam for 11 months were more than accumulated in by any other military person from Shelby County, Ohio.

The remains of the four HH-3E crewmen were repatriated on 14 February 2003 and the positive identification of all four men was announced on 17 September 2003. On Saturday, 18 October 2003, Sergeant Locker's remains were interred in Glen Cemetery, Port Jefferson, Ohio. The route from church to cemetery was decorated by many American flags and lined with people saluting Sergeant Locker. The route through the cemetery was lined by color guard units from all over Ohio. The units represented Vietnam Veterans of America chapters (Chapter 55 included), American Legion Posts, VFW Posts, AMVETS Posts, DAV Posts, POW Posts, Rolling Thunder, Chained Eagles, and other veterans' groups. I am going to estimate approximately 100 color guard units were in attendance - probably more.

It was an impressive sight and a very emotional experience for all in attendance.

The USAF Honor Guard from Wright-Patterson AFB was extremely nervous when they saw the absolutely huge turnout. The highest ranking enlisted man was an E-4, and the Officer in Charge was a Second Lieutenant ... he was equally nervous. All went well. The final tribute was a fly-over by a restored HH-3 "JOLLY GREEN" trailing green smoke that was flown in from the East Coast (so I am told).

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Locker saw their son come home.

Mark A. Rehl
Vietnam Veterans of America
Chapter 55
Licking County, Ohio

Photo courtesy of Mr. Rehl

02 Apr 2007

The crash site of the Air Force Helicopter Jolly Green 23 was discovered on 09 November 2002 and excavation began on 17 January 2003. The remains of the four crew members were repatriated to US soil on 14 February 2003 and Jim Locker was buried with full military honors in Sidney, Ohio on 18 October 2003.

Two videos made from photographs taken at the ceremony can be viewed at the Farewell To A Hero page on my POW/MIA Remembrance Page for Jim Locker.

Jim, you are not forgotten!

Lorrie Scally

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 9 June 1968 a section of Marine A-4 Skyhawks were targeted against a NVA base area southwest of Hue. One of the Marines, 1st Lt Walter R. Schmidt (A-4E BuNo 151080), was hit while on a delivery run and ejected, landing in the middle of the NVA encampment area. He established contact via emergency radio, advising that he had a broken leg and that NVA troops were approaching. An Air Force HH-3E, Jolly Green 22, made three attempts to pick Schmidt up before being forced from the area due to low fuel. Following suppressive air strikes a second HH-3E (hull number 67-14710, piloted by USCG LT Jack C. Rittichier) made another attempt. As Jolly Green 23 approached Schmidt's position it was hit by enemy fire and burst into flame. Other aircrew watched as the HH-3E crashed and exploded in a small clearing; no-one escaped from the burning wreckage.

Two things became apparent during further attempts to pick up 1st Lt Schmidt -

  • the NVA troops were too well dug in to be forced away by air strikes, and
  • they had established a very effective "flak trap" around the downed Marine, effectively using him as bait for the SAR helicopters.
Schmidt had gone down at about 1020 local time; voice contact with him was lost at about 1415 local and was not regained. During the final pick-up attempt at about 1700 local, the HH-53's flight engineer spotted 1st Lt Schmidt lying prone on the ground, unmoving and partially covered by his parachute.

At this point the Danang SAR coordination center, acting on recommendations from the on-scene commander, halted further SAR efforts and directed the SAR forces to return to base. According to one report, ground forces inserted on 10 June failed to locate any sign of 1st Lt Schmidt.

Five men were lost, four dead and one missing in action:

The crewmen of Jolly Green 23 were immediately listed Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered. 1st Lt Schmidt was never reported as being in enemy hands, and it was concluded that he probably had been killed while resisting capture. The Secretary of the Navy approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for Schmidt on 24 Oct 1973.

As noted above, the remains of the Jolly Green crew were repatriated and identified, but Walter Schmidt still is missing.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 23 Oct 2003
Last updated 08/10/2009