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Updated:  03 July 2004


Click here for Lt. Col. Charles James Ramsay, USMC
Returned 1 January 1998, Identified 19 July 2001

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Name:  James Thomas Egan, Jr.

Rank/Branch: 02/US Marine Corps

Unit: H/3/12 [Battery H, 3rd BN, 12th Marines, 3rd MarDIV

Born:  31 May 1943  (Summit, NJ 

Home City of Record:  Mountainside, New Jersey

Date of Loss:  21 January 1966

Country of Loss:  South Vietnam

Loss Coordinates:
144800N 1084100E (BS521369)
*

Status in 1973:  Missing in Action

Category:  2

Acft/Vehicle/Ground:  Ground

Refno: 0235

Others in Incident (None Missing)
 

 

 


photo extracted from the one below


Left to Right:  James T. Egan, Jr., Jim Secrist,
Philip Lo Presti, John L'Estrange, Edward F. Hap

Photo taken on Ky Xuan Island prior to 21 January 1966
This photo was provided to the Delta 1/4 web page by
Lt. L'Estrange for their page dedicated to James Egan
 

*{These coordinates are in the area of Hill 829 Cao Muon Mountain, just northwest of BaTo, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam.


(these maps courtesy of Task Force Omega)

Click here for a detailed map of the area - you must be patient as the map is large (scroll down & look for the numbers 515 in light circles to extreme left)-- courtesy of Dusty, Jim Henthorn 21st S.O.S. Nov. '67 - May '69}    

Click here for a History of Operation Double Eagle, Operation Masher, Operation Thang Phong II, Operation Lien Ket-22, Operation White Wing.  Major Egan was Missing in Action during Operation Double-Eagle. Thanks to the 1st Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division

 


Overlay for the BaTo Sheet
Showing location of last sighting of James Egan
(The hill is labeled 857 - it is actually 829)

  Click to go to letter from Capt. LeRoy Blessing (retired) about the day
   James Egan was lost

   Statements given to the U.S. Government by members of Major Egan's team.
   My thanks to Patty and Capt. Blessing for the above overlay and the statements

 

 

The New Jersey Vietnam Memorial
Photo on right shows the names of James T. Egan, Jr. and Charles J. Ramsay, two of the Marines from New Jersey who have never come home
click on thumbnails to view larger

 

This photo taken by Steve Scherr on
14 July 2001
at Arlington National Cemetery
                     
     They went with songs to the battle,
they were young,
     Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
     They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
     They fell with their faces to the foe.

     They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:
     Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
     At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
     We will remember them.

         .....To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
     As the stars are known to the Night;

   Excerpt from For the Fallen
 by Laurence Binyon

 

James T. Egan joined the Marine Corps in 1964 after graduating Notre Dame.  He completed OCS training at Quantico, Virginia, with a 95 average which allowed him to select his assignment/duty station.  He chose Hawai'i.

Once in Hawai'i, then 1st Lt. Egan was assigned to Battery H, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.  His unit was unexpectedly ordered to Vietnam.  On 21 January 1966, 1st Lt. Egan was an Artillery Forward Observer with a Reconnaissance Patrol which was operating about 15 miles southwest of the city of Quang Ngai in Quang Ngat Province, South Vietnam.  At 1705 hours his patrol was ambushed by by VC/NVA (Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army) forces.  In the ensuing darkness and heat of battle, 1st Lt. Egan was separated from the rest of his patrol.  When the other patrol members were able to disengage from the fire fight and reach safety, they discovered him missing.  Because of the darkness and heavy enemy presence in the area, no search could be conducted for fellow team member, 1st Lt. Egan.  (Most important, immediately below is a response to this last sentence from one of the Recon team who was actually with Jim Egan on this day during this ambush.)

Some years later, a South Vietnamese soldier who escaped Vietnam reported he had been held prisoner with Egan during the war.  He reported he believed the communists executed Egan because the American was removed from the prison camp and not returned to it.  When he asked where the American was taken, the guard said they executed him. As the Marine Corps never changed his status to prisoner of war, the validity of this report cannot be ascertained.

Whether James Thomas Egan was executed or merely removed to another prison camp is not known.  What is known is that since the end of the Vietnam War well over 21,000 reports of American prisoners, missing and otherwise unaccounted for have been received by our government.  Many of these reports document LIVE prisoners of War remaining captive throughout Southeast Asia TODAY.  Government experts disagree whether or not these reports constitute actionable evidence.  To date, the U.S. has been unable to secure release of even a single prisoner held after the war.  The Egan family wants to know if Egan is one of them -- and when he will be brought home.

James T. Egan, Jr., was promoted to the rank of Major during the period he was maintained Missing in Action.  

American military personnel were called upon to fight in many dangerous circumstances, and they were prepared to be wounded, killed or captured.  It probably never occurred to them that they could be abandoned by the country they so proudly served.

Source:  Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following:  raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.  Updated by the P.O.W. Network 1998.

The above information was received from Operation Just Cause and www.taskforceomegainc.org

  "In the ensuing darkness and heat of battle, Lt. Egan was reportedly shot in the stomach and became separated from the rest of the patrol.  When the Force Recon patrol terminated the firefight, they immediately regrouped, discovered Lt. Egan to be missing and began to conduct an immediate search for him well into darkness.  The following morning the Force Recon Team was ambushed again, and Cpl. Russell Grissett was also separated from the team and was MIA.  An aerial overflight by Egan's company commander and Force Recon's company commander and ground search by Grissett's team members unfortunately resulted in negative findings.  A subsequent search by approximately 50 Marines also sadly resulted in negative findings of the missing men." 

This is a direct quote from a member of the Force Recon team present during the ambush, whom I know personally, and should dispel any thought in anyone's mind that the Marines left the area without thoroughly searching for their missing comrades.  When I read the above statement received from OJC, specifically the sentence that implied that Jim Egan was not searched for and left behind, I was much taken aback because having been brought up by a Marine officer who was every inch a MARINE, I knew that there was no way something had not been done to find Jim as soon as possible after the incident.

 

Click on emblem to visit the 3rd Recon Assn site
3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 12th Marines
 3rd Marine Division
3/12
3/12 Network
Visit Tom Tilque's site dedicated to the 3/12
   


Click on the logo to visit the pages of the Force Recon Association
Jim went MIA while on patrol with a Force Recon patrol

 

Click here to see the report of Senate Select Committee - Vessey 135 Discrepancy Cases:  South Vietnam James T. Egan (0235)  This report contains additional information not presented above.

                             

  

In response to a query I made to the 3rd Recon Bn, I received an email today from George Neville, their historian, which indicates that the reason Major Egan was not designated a P.O.W. was that Egan

             "...was never seen by the other surviving
             members of that camp.  He is simply missing
             in action.  No evidence I have seen indicates
             he ever made it to any p.o.w. camp.  Quite
             simply put he was killed in action."

Jacquie Scherr
13 Sept 2000

 

The following was received from:  www.thewall-usa.com:

CAPT - 03 - Marine Corps - Reserve
34 year old Single, Caucasian, Male
Born on May 31, 1943
From MOUNTAINSIDE, NEW JERSEY
His tour of duty began on Jan 21, 1966
Casualty was on Feb 03, 1978
in QUANG TIN, SOUTH VIETNAM
Hostile, died while missing
GROUND CASUALTY
Body was not recovered
Religion
ROMAN CATHOLIC
Panel 04E - - Line 81

Also found on The Wall USA site was the following message from Patty Mielke, which I thought to be of interest, because the documentation of this incident from OJC has the Marines of 1st Force, 3rd Recon, leaving their fallen comrades behind because of darkness and heavy enemy concentrations. Actually, the 1st Recon did search for James Egan as soon as they were able after re-grouping. (There was another of this team, Russ Grissett, who who was taken the next day and who was shot in a POW camp - about 2 years later) and has since been repatriated to the U.S. - see the report of Senate Select Committee above - Vessey 135 Discrepancy Cases below) 

Patty Mielke (RacinYank@aol.com writes:  A friend of his friend, Capt. LeRoy E. Blessing (Ret.)

To the Egan's.  Capt. LeRoy E. Blessing and I are on active search to obtain answers as to what happened to James.  Capt. Blessing was there on 1-21-66 and saw what happened as the "fight" continued.  He did along with others go and search for James as soon as the "fight" was over.  He to this day remembers his friend and continues to want to know "the truth" as to James' fate.  Any family member, friend, or member from "H" Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Division please contact me.  Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Captain LeRoy Blessing, USMC, Retired



Then


Now

The following email was sent to me by Marine Captain LeRoy Blessing (retired) who was a member of the Recon Team (Battery H, 3rd Bn, 12th MAR, 3rd MARDIV) and was serving with Jim Egan at the time 1st Force was ambushed..

November 2000

Good morning Jacquie,
 
I see that your family is quite military orientated.  I didn't know your father and thank goodness I never needed his services.  Ha!  I was stationed in the DC area at the same time you and your family were.  I was at Marine Barracks at 8th& I Street attached to the Marine Corps Institute as a correspondence course writer for Artillery.  I spent three (3) years there and also participated in the funeral services for President Kennedy.  I was one of eight Marines that served as ushers at the Cathedral for the funeral service.

As Patty stated in one of her emails to you there was a search conducted for Jim on the day that he was missing.  But due to the unknown number of enemy in the area it was limited in scope.  This search was conducted until darkness required that it be stopped until the next day.  The Recon patrol leader conducted this search along with the remaining patrol members.  The following morning the CO of the Recon Company along with my Battery Commander personally made an over flight (Aerial Observation Plane) looking for Jim.  This search was conducted for over three (3) hours with negative results.  Then ten (10) days later a Marine ground force of about fifty (50) Marines were helilifted into the area in which he was lost.  A search was conducted in the area in which he was lost with negative results.  As I'm sure your father told you at one time or another about the Corps we were trained to never leave our dead or wounded on the battlefield and this is the case with Jim.  Everything that could be done to possibly rescue Jim was done and done in a professional manner.  I was there and know what was done.  And I think the POW/Mia search teams [had] done as well as they could in trying to locate Jim or his remains.  Unfortunately, it or any of his remains will probably never be recovered.  We are almost certain that Jim was wounded (shot in the stomach) when the patrol was ambushed.  I interviewed Cpl Oberhaus who was Jim's Radio Operator when he returned for a statement and he said he saw Jim clutch his stomach and bend over.

From the information that the Library of Congress has in their documents Jim was shot for not obeying orders.  Knowing Jim like I did I find this to be very possible as he was a good Marine and an Excellent Marine Officer.  He was shot on the side of a hill and then rolled down the hill into a swift moving river and his body was swept away.  This is possible as the conditions they were operating in fit that location to a TEE.  Grissett was shot and captured the next day.  I don't believe that Jim was ever taken as a POW.  I don't hold out the same hope that you do that there are still some of our men being held over there.  It would be wonderful if they were and they could be returned but I believe this is wishful thinking. 

Jacquie, I hope that this has answered some of your questions about what happened to Jim.  If not you can contact me and I'll give you what I know.

Best wishes,

LeRoy


Wounded Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie reaches out to a stricken comrade after a firefight in South Vietnam in 1966 
This photo was printed in the Military Times Newsweekly Group Magazine

 

Click here to read letter which was sent by email to President and Mrs. Clinton, Vice President and Mrs. Gore, Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey, Senator Torricelli of New Jersey.  This letter was never responded to in satisfactory fashion by any of the above named.

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Captain Charles James Ramsay, USMC

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Background music:  Flowers of the Forest, traditional Scottish lament written after a lost battle with the British at Flodden Field, Northumberland, England,  9 September 1513.  Scottish mythology says that those who fell in battle would return as "Flowers in the Forest".  Solo bagpipe, synchronized by Barry Taylor


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