1st Lt

James Lindsay Badley

18 October 1942 – ????

badleyOn 27 March 1968, then 2nd Lt. James L. Badley and Captain Richard L. Whitteker, both of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, departed Danang Air Base on a strike mission into North Vietnam.

Jim Badley did not return from his 85th mission – their F-4D went down in North Vietnam.

From an eyewitness account by Captain Charles Smith, an F-100 “Fast FAC” who controlled the flight:

“On the afternoon of 27 March 1968, as Misty 21, I controlled Gunfighter 07 [piloted by Major Harper and Lt. Paul] and Gunfighter 08 [piloted by Capt. Whitteker and Lt. Badley] on a target in North Vietnam; coordinates XE 279 165. On this flight, Gunfighter 08 crashed into a hill immediately Northeast of the target.”

Misty 21 watched the aircraft make the last portion of the pass and saw the impact; impact came while Misty 21 was directly over the aircraft in a 90 degree bank, at an altitude of four thousand feet above Gunfighter 08.

On the two previous passes on the target (a marking pass by Misty 21, and an ordnance delivery pass by Gunfighter 07) there had been small arms/automatic weapons muzzle flashes in the valley immediately to the Southeast of the target. Gunfighter 08’s last pass took him directly over this valley.

Gunfighter 08 called in, and Misty did not see him until Gunfighter 08 was on final, about 1/2 mile out. At this time the aircraft was straight and level, at a dive angle of approximately twenty degrees, and appeared to be at the normal airspeed for ordnance delivery. The pass looked very good at that point (the pass was a strafe pass) and Misty 21 commented ‘Looks like a good pass, Gunfighter.’ Gunfighter 08 did not start recovery until the aircraft was almost directly over the target. It is easy to tell when an F-4C/D begins his recovery, because of the vapor condensation above the wings when the aircraft is pulling ‘Gs’. This vapor condensation did not occur until Gunfighter 08 was almost directly over the target. At this time, it appeared to Misty 21 that the ‘G’ forces came on more rapidly than in a normal recovery and more than the normal ‘G’ load was applied. Almost immediately, Gunfighter 08 impacted very near the top of the hill Northeast of the target”.

Although both men were initially listed as Missing in Action, an Air Force review board determined that the circumstances of their loss were such that survival was not possible and recommended that their status be changed.

The recommendation was approved on 08 May 1968 and their status was changed to “Hostile Loss/Died while Missing/Body not Recovered”. As of 5 July 2002, neither Whitteker’s nor Badley’s remains have been repatriated.


Jim Badley graduated from Oregon State University with the Class of 1965 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Force Reserve. He began flight training at Williams AFB, received his wings in October 1966, and received F-4 training at Davis-Monthan AFB before reporting to the 480th TFS at Danang in September 1967.

Previous to his fateful mission in 1968, Badley was shot down on his 25th mission on 20 Nov 67 but was rescued. His actions while on the ground during the rescue operation warranted the award of the Silver Star. Captain John Martin, who was flying as aircraft commander that day, did not survive the incident.

On 14 Mar 68, Badley assisted in providing RESCAP support during a successful effort to pick up two downed aviators; he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Commendation Medal for his efforts.

As noted above, Jim Badley’s remains have not been repatriated – but a memorial stone to him was placed in the Willamette National Cemetery (Portland, Oregon) on 23 May 1969. His father, Burton E. Badley, LTC, USAF (Ret), was buried there as well on 7 Dec 1979.