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Remains returned/identified 12/22/98

Rank/Branch: SP4/US Army Country of Loss:South Vietnam
Unit:20th Aviation Detachment (See note in text) Loss Coordinates:125801N 1091600E (CQ120265)
Date of Birth:14 December 1942 Status(in 1973):Killed/Body Not Recovered Category : 4
Home City of Record:Cedar Rapids IA Acft/Vehicle/Ground:OV1C Refno: 0229
Loss Date: Other Personnel In Incident:Thaddeus E. Williams, Jr.(missing) Remains returned/identified 12/22/98


Compiled 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 in 1998.


James Schimberg was the observer on an OV1C Mohawk flying out of Hue/Phu Bai Airbase with the 20th Aviation Detachment(later known as the 131st Aviation Company). On January 9, 1966, Schimberg and his pilot,Thaddeus Williams flew a night reconnaissance mission in South Vietnam.

The last radio contact with Schimberg’s plane was made when the plane was a short distance southwest of the city of Tuy Hoa in Phu Yen Province. The two men were listed Missing In Action by the Army. One year and a day later, the two were listed “KIA” based on no new information that they were alive. Most of the details of the loss of Schimberg and Williams’ aircraft is still classified (1989).

The OV1C was outfitted with infrared detection equipment and a forward aimed camera. The infrared sensor was especially valuable in surveillance because the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong relied so heavily upon darkness to conceal their activity. The planes were generally unarmed.

Schimberg is among nearly 2500 Americans who did not come home from Southeast Asia at the end of the war. Unlike the MIAs of other wars, many of these men can be accounted for. Tragically, over 8000 reports of Americans still in captivity in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S., yet freedom for them seems beyond our grasp.

NOTE: The 20th Aviation Detachment existed until December 1966, at which time it was reassigned as the 131st Aviation Company, 223rd Aviation Battalion (Combat Support). The 131st Aviation Company had been assigned to I Corps Aviation Battalion since June 1966, when it arrived in Vietnam. In August 1967, the 131st Aviation Company was reassigned to the 212th Aviation Battalion where it remained until July 1971, whereupon it transferred out of Vietnam.

There were a large number of pilots lost from this unit, including Thaddeus E. Williams and James P. Schimberg (January 9, 1966); John M. Nash and Glenn D. McElroy (March 15, 1966); James W. Gates and John W. Lafayette (April 6,1966); Robert G. Nopp and Marshall Kipina (July 14, 1966); Jimmy M. Brasher and Robert E. Pittman (September 28, 1966); James M. Johnstone and James L.Whited (November 19, 1966); Larry F. Lucas (December 20, 1966); and Jack W.Brunson and Clinton A. Musil (May 31, 1971). Missing OV1 aircraft crew from the 20th/131st represent well over half of those lost on OV1 aircraft during the war.

U.S. Army records list both Nopp and Kipina as part of the “131st Aviation Company, 14th Aviation Battalion”, yet according to “Order of Battle” by Shelby Stanton, a widely recognized military source, this company was never assigned to the 14th Aviation Battalion. The 131st was known as “Nighthawks”, and was a surveillance aircraft company.

No. 198-M

The remains of three American servicemen previously unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia have been identified and are being returned to the United States for burial. Two are identified as Capt. Thaddeus E.Williams Jr., Mobile, Ala., and Spc. 4 James P. Schimberg, Cedar Rapids,Iowa, both U. S. Army. The name of the third, a U.S. Navy officer lost in North Vietnam in 1965, is being withheld at the request of his family.

On Jan. 9, 1966, Williams, with crew member Schimberg, was flying his OV1-C Mohawk on a night combat surveillance mission over Phu Yen province, South Vietnam when radio contact was lost at midnight. He was forced to fly “dead reckoning” as the navigation system on the aircraft was inoperable. Weather in the area was marginal, with dense cloud cover over the mountains when their last radio contact was heard. Their aircraft never returned to home base. Search attempts discovered no evidence of either the aircraft or the crew.

In August 1993 a joint team of specialists from the U.S. Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and from Vietnam interviewed two Vietnamese informants in a local village near the suspected crash site. One of the villagers said he had recovered bone fragments, two identification tags and Williams’ identification card in 1979. He recalled that one of the identification tags contained a name beginning with “S.” The joint team flew an aerial survey of the suspected crash location, but found no evidence of the loss.

The following month, one of the informants met with the team again and presented them with identification tags with both Williams’ and Schimberg’s name affixed. He also turned over the bone fragments he claimed were those from the crash.

Anthropological analysis of the remains and other evidence by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii established the identification of both Williams and Schimberg. Mitochondrial DNA testing was used to help confirm the identifications.

With the identification of these three servicemen, the remains of 510 Americans have been accounted for since 1973, and 2,073 are still unaccounted-for from the war in Southeast Asia. The U.S. government welcomes and appreciates the cooperation of the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that led to the accounting of these servicemen. We hope that such cooperation will bring increased results in the future.
Achieving the fullest possible accounting for these Americans is of the highest national priority.

April 19, 1999

Vietnam veteran’s remains return to Iowa 33 years later
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – The remains of a Cedar Rapids soldier killed in Vietnam were returned to his home city for burial 33 years after he was reported missing.

Jim Schimberg’s remains arrived at The Eastern Iowa Airport on Wednesday.A military escort from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., accompanied Schimberg’s casket.”It was quite a powerful moment,” said his brother, Joe Schimberg of Cedar Rapids. “It certainly is an emotional moment to see your brother carried off a plane and returned to his community.”

A service has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, at All Saints Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids, with burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

A helicopter flyover by the Iowa Army National Guard is planned. A Fort Leavenworth escort will conduct graveside military rites, and the Vietnam Veterans of America will give the Schimberg family a POW/MIA flag.

Jim Schimberg was on a reconnaissance mission over the South Vietnam coast when his plane lost radio contact Jan. 9, 1966. He was 23 at the time.

His identification tags were returned to the United States in 1993. It took five years to confirm his identity. Schimberg’s parents, Charles and Gwendolyn Schimberg, died without having their son’s death confirmed.

Government sources list 2,069 Americans missing in action in Southeast Asia.

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