JAMES E CROSS
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HONORED ON PANEL 11W, LINE 44 OF THE WALL

JAMES EMORY CROSS

WALL NAME

JAMES E CROSS

PANEL / LINE

11W/44

DATE OF BIRTH

06/23/1944

CASUALTY PROVINCE

LZ

DATE OF CASUALTY

04/24/1970

HOME OF RECORD

WARREN

COUNTY OF RECORD

Trumbull County

STATE

OH

BRANCH OF SERVICE

AIR FORCE

RANK

CAPT

ASSOCIATED ITEMS LEFT AT THE WALL

REMEMBRANCES

LEFT FOR JAMES EMORY CROSS
POSTED ON 4.24.2019
POSTED BY: John Braun

In Honor

CPT Cross, You are remembered. Pilot, Cessna U-17B Skywagon.
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POSTED ON 10.29.2018
POSTED BY: Len Zuga

Never to be forgotten

So long ago. So many memories. So many reminders. We visited you at the wall and now I will tell your story to the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum. You are an intimate part of my own service. Ever since we heard of your loss while I was safe in a Navy school in Newport RI. You were flying FAC missions and I was studying to be a destroyer department head. Then you were gone and I was still here. Why? For what? Now you are finally home my friend. You would appreciate the Veterans Museum and though you did not live to tell your story I will do the best I can to do that for you.
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POSTED ON 10.29.2018
POSTED BY: Len Zuga

Never to be forgotten

So long ago. So many memories. So many reminders. We visited you at the wall and now I will tell your story to the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum. You are an intimate part of my own service. Ever since we heard of your loss while I was safe in a Navy school in Newport RI. You were flying FAC missions and I was studying to be a destroyer department head. Then you were gone and I was still here. Why? For what? Now you are finally home my friend. You would appreciate the Veterans Museum and though you did not live to tell your story I will do the best I can to do that for you.
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POSTED ON 3.2.2018
POSTED BY: Lucy Micik

THANK YOU

Dear Captain James Cross,
Thank you for your service as a Tactical Aircraft Pilot (Various.) I am glad you were identified in 2008. Welcome home. It is so important for us all to acknowledge the sacrifices of those like you who answered our nation's call. Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage and faithfulness. Rest in peace with the angels.
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POSTED ON 7.3.2015
POSTED BY: wkillian@smjuhsd.org

Final Mission of CAPT James E. Cross

Final Mission of CAPT James E. Cross
The Steve Canyon program was a highly classified FAC (forward air control) operation covering the military regions of Laos. U.S. military operations in Laos were severely restricted during the Vietnam War era because Laos had been declared neutral by the Geneva Accords. The non-communist forces in Laos, however, had a critical need for military support in order to defend territory used by Lao and North Vietnamese communist forces. The U.S., in conjunction with non-communist forces in Laos, devised a system whereby U.S. military personnel could be "in the black" (clandestine; mustered out of the military to perform military duties as a civilian) to operate in Laos under supervision of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos. RAVEN was the radio call sign which identified the flyers of the Steve Canyon Program. Men recruited for the program were rated Air Force officers with at least six months experience in Vietnam. They tended to be the very best of pilots, but by definition, this meant that they were also mavericks, and considered a bit wild by the mainstream military establishment. The Ravens came under the formal command of CINCPAC and the 7/13th Air Force 56th Special Operations Wing at Nakhon Phanom, but their pay records were maintained at Udorn with Detachment 1. Officially, they were on loan to the U.S. Air Attache at Vientiane. Unofficially, they were sent to outposts like Long Tieng, where their field commanders were the CIA, the Meo Generals, and the U.S. Ambassador. Once on duty, they flew FAC missions which controlled all U.S. air strikes over Laos. All tactical strike aircraft had to be under the control of a FAC, who was intimately familiar with the locale, the populous, and the tactical situation. The FAC would find the target, order up U.S. fighter/bombers from an airborne command and control center, mark the target accurately with white phosphorus (Willy Pete) rockets, and control the operation throughout the time the planes remained on station. After the fighters had departed, the FAC stayed over the target to make a bomb damage assessment (BDA). The FAC also had to ensure that there were no attacks on civilians, a complex problem in a war where there were no front lines and any hamlet could suddenly become part of the combat zone. A FAC needed a fighter pilot's mentality, but but was obliged to fly slow and low in such unarmed and vulnerable aircraft as the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog, and the Cessna O-2. Consequently, aircraft used by the Ravens were continually peppered with ground fire. A strong fabric tape was simply slapped over the bullet holes until the aircraft could no longer fly. Ravens were hopelessly overworked by the war. The need for secrecy kept their numbers low (never more than 22 at one time), and the critical need of the Meo sometimes demanded each pilot fly 10 and 12 hour days. Some Ravens completed their tour of approximately 6 months with a total of over 500 combat missions. The Ravens in at Long Tieng in Military Region II, had, for several years, the most difficult area in Laos. The base, just on the southern edge of the Plain of Jars, was also the headquarters for the CIA-funded Meo army commanded by General Vang Pao. An interesting account of this group can be read in Christopher Robbins' book, "The Ravens". This book contains the following account of the loss of Captains James E. Cross and Gomer D. Reese III: "Volunteer Ravens presented a problem opposite that facing most military commanders--they needed to be held back, not egged on. It was the Head Raven's job to spot the signs of combat exhaustion among his men before it killed them. "One of the Ravens [the Head Raven] felt needed to be watched was Jim Cross. [The Head Raven] ordered Cross to stay out of the combat zone and restricted his flying to checking out new pilots. Cross moved down to Vientiane and busied himself buying stereo gear and bamboo furniture to ship back to the States. "One of the newcomers Cross was supposed to check out was Dave, an amiable young man distinguished by a scar across his nose. Cross had been instructed to check out the new Raven in the Vientiane area and then fly on up to Alternate [Long Tieng]. On the way Cross thought he would take Reese out onto the Plain of Jars, as they were flying in the long-range U-17, and keep on going until they reached the Ban Ban valley. "Mark Diebolt was out on the Plain of Jars in a T-28 when he heard Cross's Mayday distress signal. Unknown to the pilot, the NVA had moved a mobile 37mm antiaircraft gun into the Ban Ban valley--always a potential flak trap because of the number of guns positioned there--and the U-17 had taken three hits. One shell had blown a massive hole in the wing. 'I've got full trim--everything's jettisoned,' Cross said over the radio. Moments later he made his final transmission: 'I can't hold it--it's going down.' "The plane had lost all power, glided into some trees, and exploded. Diebolt flew over the wreckage and saw the great gaping hole in the right wing made by the shell. It had been yet another of those deadly Old Head-FNG checkout rides, where the combination of over-confidence and inexperience had proved fatal." Cross and Reese are among nearly 600 Americans lost in Laos. The Ravens were extremely dedicated to the freedom-loving people of Laos and put their very lives on the line for them. They believed in America and the job it was trying to do in Southeast Asia. They were also quite insistent that each of their own were accounted for, dead or alive. While Cross and Reese may not be among those thought to be still alive, one can be certain that they would be among the first to volunteer, in the Raven spirit, to assist them to freedom. [Taken from pownetwork.org]
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