James Burton MillsLieutenant Commander
VF-21, CVW-2, USS CORAL SEA
United States Navy
31 August 1940 - 18 April 1978
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The database page for James Burton Mills
LTJG James B. Mills had completed 148 combat missions during his first cruise as a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) with Fighter Squadron 21 embarked in USS MIDWAY (CV-41). He returned aboard USS CORAL SEA (CVA 43) for a second combat deployment in the F-4B PHANTOM II.
On September 21, 1966, LCDR James R. Bauder, pilot, and LTJG Mills, RIO, launched on a night armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. Bauder was flight lead for a 2-plane section. The assigned route was from Cua Can to Thach Luyen along a river adjacent to Highway 1A.
As briefed, the wingman, a LT Hanley, was to hold a 4-5 mile radar trail behind Bauder's aircraft. After Bauder dropped flares to illuminate the river for barges, Hanley would attack any targets of opportunity illuminated by the flares. Hanley would then proceed straight ahead along the river for 45 seconds and drop his flares. Bauder, circling behind Hanley, would then prosecute any targets illuminated by Hanley's flares.
However, after going "feet dry" Hanley was unable to contact Bauder by radio. He then checked with the USS CHICAGO and the E-2A air control aircraft to see if they had radar contact with Bauder's aircraft, but they did not.
Neither Hanley nor his RIO had observed any flak or SAM firings during the mission, nor had they observed any unexpected explosions in the air or on the ground. No signals were detected from the emergency radios carried by Bauder and Mills. Extensive SAR operations during the night and early morning were unsuccessful; Bauder, Mills, and their aircraft had disappeared. The two were declared Missing In Action.
A memorial from one who wore his MIA bracelet,
In 1971 I received the POW/MIA bracelet of the ever handsome Lt. James Mills which I wore for many of my teen years. I still think about him and his family and I was in contact with his mother and father in the 70's via letters. I still have his bracelet which I am wearing today, and the letters from his parents. My thoughts are with his family and just want them to know that I have never forgotten.
A Note from The Virtual WallIn 1978, Presumptive Findings of Death (PFOD) were issued for Captain Bouder (12 May) and Lieutenant Commander Mills (18 April) by the Secretary of the Navy. PFOD findings were based on the elapsed time without information indicating that the two men were still alive.
Given the absence of information indicating that either Bauder or Mills had been captured, it appears that they may have been killed on 21 September 1966, James Bauder at the age of 35 and James Mills at the age of 26.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 27 May 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009