Birth:  Oct. 4, 1949
Fulton County
Georgia, USA

May 13, 1975, Thailand


In Loving Memory of ... Captain James Grier Kays.
*** Burial Site Atlanta, GA.Funeral services for Capt. Kays were held in Atlanta.

You may be gone, no longer living on this earth; but you will live on - in the memories of your family and friends. There will always be a part of you living in me, your brother, sisters and those who knew you and loved you. You will live on because we remember you!

Age: 25
Date of Birth Oct 4, 1949
Next of Kin: Captain James G. Kays, Class of 1971, was killed on 13 may 1975 as a result of a CH-53 helicopter accident approximately 36 miles southwest of Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. He is survived by his parents, Mr.Marion Reed Kays, Jr.(Marion Reed Jr. Kays 1913 - 1990 m: 1 March 1945 d: 23 November 1990) and Mrs. Bernice Helen(Sue) Blandord Kays(born 1918 - )of 4225 Lake Forrest Dr., Atlanta, GA 30342.

CAPT - O3 - Air Force -
Casualty was on May 13, 1975
Graduation - 1971
KIA Date - 5/13/1975
Squadron - CS 13
Home Town - Atlanta
Home State - GA
High School - W. F. Dykes High School
High School Activities - Football, Basketball, Natl Honor Society.
Academic Degree Major - BS - Engineering Management - USAFA
Active Duty Assig.-Pilot Training,UH-1 Pilot,CH-53 Pilot
KIA Conflict - Mayaquez
Combat Information - 21st Special Operations Squadron, Nakhon Phenom Airport Tailand
Killed In Action Mission - CH-53 Helicopter carrying 23 AF Personnel experienced rotor failure 36 nm southwest of Nakhon Phenom Airport resulting in a fiery crash. The flight was in support of the Mayaguez Operations.
Next of Kin - Mr & Mrs Marion R Kays (parents)
Burial Site - Atlanta, GA
Aeronautical Speciality Rating - Pilot CH-53
Notable Decoration Awards - 1 AFCM

Body was recovered
Panel 01W - Line 127

Other Personnel In Incident: During the search of the wreckage all 23 remains were recovered from the crash.

1/Lt James G KAYS, FR, (pilot)
1/Lt.,_Laurence FROEHLICH, FR, (copilot)
TSgt Jackie ll. GLENN, FR, (passenger)
SSgt Gerald A. COYLE, FR, (passenger)
SSgt Faleagafulu ILAOA, FR, (passenger)
SSgt George E. McMULLEN, III, FR, (flight mechanic)
Sgt Jimmy P. BLACK, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Bobby G. COLLUMS, FR., (passenger)
Sgt Thomas D. DWYER, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Bob W. FORD, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Gerald W. FRITZ, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Darrell L. HAMLIN, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Gregory L. HANKAMER, FR, (passenger)
Sgt David A. HIGGS, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Michael D. LANE, FR, (passenger)
Sgt William R. McKELVEY, FR, (passenger)
Sgt Paul J. RABER, FR, (crew chief)
Sgt Robert W. ROSS, FR, (passenger)
A1C Dennis W. LONDON, FR, (passenger)
A1C Robert P. MATHIAS, FR, (passenger)
A1C Tommy R. NEALIS, FR, (passenger)
A1C Robert P. WELDON, FR, (flight mechanic)
Amn Edgar G. MORAN, II, FR, (passenger)

Killed in an aircraft accident near Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, 23 men perished in the crash including the two pilots both Academy Graduates.

All operable 40th Rescue HH-53Cs and Special Operations CH-¬53C helicopters were loaded and ordered to U-Tapao for staging. They carried a staff element, security policemen, an assortment of maintenance stands, tow bars, servicing equipment, ammunition, and spare parts. As the night progressed, seven CH-53s launched toward U-Tapao along with five HH-53s.

One of the CH-53s, Knife-13, took off at 9:15 P.M. Thirty-six miles east of Nakhon Phanom, the rotor system failed and the helicopter nosed over, plummeting to a fiery impact. Two of the special operations helicopters diverted and landed near the crash site. The inferno lit up the night sky. All five crew members and eighteen security policemen died in the crash. The Mayaguez Incident had claimed its first twenty-three victims.

Helicopters from the 40th Rescue Squadron were scrambled to the tragic scene as well, at the insistence of the squadron commander, even though the special operations aircraft had long been on the ground there and reported no survivors.

KAYS, James G.
Class of 1971
- killed on 13 May 1975 as a CH-53 helicopter aircraft commander about 36 miles SW of Nakhon Phanom Airport while on a classified mission
- helicopter carried 23 AF members and was lost from radar and radio contact
- another CH-53 saw the crash scene and fires in the Thailand jungle and reported no chance for survivors
- all 23 personnel killed in the crash
- member of the 21st Special Operations Squadron at the time
- memorial fund used to purchase books for the USAFA Library
- as a cadet, served as a Cadet Flight Sergeant and was well respected
- earned 1 AFCM
- name is on the USAFA War Memorial
The CH-53 Helicopter he was piloting crashed approximately 36 miles southwest of the airbase. The aircraft was lost from radar and no radio contact could be made. Another helicopter in the area spotted the crash scene and reported no chance of any survivors. During the search of the wreckage, all 23 remains were recovered from the crash.

Family links: 
  Bernice "Sue" Blanford Kays (____ - 2002)
Note: Burial Site Atlanta, GA.Funeral services for Capt. Kays were held in Atlanta.
Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu County
Hawaii, USA