James Eugene Steadman

United States Air Force
18 February 1945 - 13 February 1975
Fort Collins, CO
Panel 02W Line 073



James E Steadman

USAF Pilot

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

The database page for James Eugene Steadman

The Mission

On 26 November 1971, then-1st Lt. James E. Steadman, pilot, and 1st Lt Robert D. Buetel, Weapons System Operator, departed Ubon RTAFB, Thailand, enroute the Ban Karai Pass area along the Lao/North Vietnamese border. They were assigned a Forward Air Controller (FAC) mission and were using the call sign OWL 08.

They "hit" the tanker to top off with fuel, detaching at 0245 and headed east toward the Pass area. While enroute they checked in with HEADSHED, the Task Force Alpha radar flight following center at Nakon Phanom RTAFB. HEADSHED cleared them into their operating area, and at about 0300 OWL 08 advised that they were switching to their assigned tactical frequency.

Nothing further was heard from OWL 08. When they did not contact HEADSHED for clearance back to the tanker, HEADSHED contacted Ubon to see if OWL 08 had returned to base with radio failure. When Ubon denied knowledge of OWL 08's whereabouts, unsuccessful checks were conducted with all other available landing fields.

At 0430 hours the aircraft was declared overdue. Search and rescue (SAR) operations were initiated at first light, but radio contact could not be established with either crewman, no beepers were heard, and no wreckage was located. OWL 08 had simply disappeared. Organized search efforts were terminated on 3 December 1971 and both men were listed as Missing in Action.

On 13 February 1973 the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for Captain Steadman, changing his status to Killed in Action/Body not Recovered. A similar action was taken with respect to Captain Beutel on 23 August 1978.

Their remains have not been repatriated.

James E Steadman

A memorial from his son and daughter,
Michael Steadman
Karin Bridget Steadman
10 Nov 2001

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)