Name: WO1 James Edward Burton, Jr.
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 03/03/1970 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 21.5
Date of Birth: 08/21/1948
Home City: Colorado Springs, CO
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: B/158 AHB 101 ABN
Major organization: 101st Airborne Division
Flight class: 69-13/69-11
Service: AV branch of the U.S. Army.
The Wall location: 13W-077
Short Summary: Hit by a single AK-47 round while serving as an aircraft commander.
Aircraft: UH-1H tail number 68-15663
Call sign: LANCER
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 100B = Utility/Observation Helicopter Pilot
Primary cause: AK-47
Major attributing cause: aircraft connected not at sea
Compliment cause: small arms fire
Vehicle involved: helicopter
Position in vehicle: aircraft commander
Started Tour: 06/01/1969
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
Location: Quang Tri Province I Corps.

Additional information about this casualty:
The record for James has an error. His aircraft did not crash. The co-pilot took the controls at James' request. The co-pilot was led to Quang Tri to the hospital by Chalk 2, piloted by Filisberto (if I spelled it correctly). I talked to the surgeon at the hospital later. He said James was dead in 40 seconds. He said the pain had to be treamendous. He was amazed that James took the hit, the hovering helicopter did not bobble. He held on till peter pilot got it. James was my very first co-pilot and started with me in July 1969. We were hooch mates when he was killed. On March 2, 1970 he and I played mumbly peg on our hooch floor, I won of course! Then I hit the bunk, while Twiggy (James) played his guitar, I never saw him again! We were to both be off the next day and planned to share breakfast. I overslept and woke at 9 am to the heat of hooch. James was gone and the mess hall was closed. I went to ops to see what was going on, then the Ops Lt told me Twiggy was dead. I cried, he was a nice kid. I still cry. He was a brave man. From: Jimmy L. Ratcliff Name: Wo James Edward Burton Jr Birth Date: 21 Aug 1948 Birth Place: Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, United States of America Death Date: 3 Mar 1970 Death Place: QuaNg Tri, QuaNg Tri, Vietnam Cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery Burial or Cremation Place: Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, United States of America JAMES EDWARD BURTON, JR., WARRANT OFFICER ONE, U.S. ARMY, MIDLAND, MIDLAND COUNTY, TEXAS AWARDS AND DECORATIONS Army Aviator Wings, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal with 8 OLC, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal BIOGRAPHY James was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His family moved often as his father was career military officer with the U.S. Air Force. He was born to Gayle Jean Kenivel and James Edward Burton, Sr. He had two older sisters, Bette and Patty. He graduated from high school in Alexandria, Virginia, Class of 1966 as his father was stationed at the Pentagon at the time. After high school, he attended Colorado State University and worked for the Atlantic Bell Telephone Company.. He wanted to fly with the Air Force, but needed a college degree, so he decided to join the Army to take advantage of the Warrant Officer Helicopter Training Program. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in March of 1968. He completed his basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana and the Primary Helicopter Training at Fort Wolters, Texas. While at Fort Wolters, he met his wife to be, Brenda J. Pritchard of Midland, Texas. Brenda was a student at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas, about 50 miles from Fort Wolters. They dated for three months and decided to marry. They married March 21, 1969 in Midland, Texas during the Easter Holidays, while he was a student at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He completed his secondary flight training, May 1, 1969 and was commissioned a Warrant Officer One. He and Brenda took a 30 day leave before he was due to report for travel to Vietnam. He began his tour in Vietnam on June 1, 1969 and was assigned as a pilot with B Company, 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion (Lancers), 101st Airbourne Division. After eight months in country, he met Brenda in Hawaii for R&R, in the first week of February 1970. He told Brenda that he would not live through Vietnam and told her how he wanted his funeral to be and where he wanted to be buried. Brenda was in shock. On March 3, 1970, he was the pilot of UH-1H, tail number 68-15663. According to Dennis Forster, who was the crew chief of the aircraft, "the mission was to land ARVN troops in an abandoned fire support base near the DMZ. Our aircraft had eight ARVN's on board. We were the lead ship and as we approached the LZ, Cobra's had been prepping the area. There were several secondary explosions observed and we knew the area was heavily booby trapped. As we made our approach, we were firing downward to detonate any explosive devices that might have hindered our landing. When we landed , four ARVN's each went out each side. As this was going on, we started to receive fire from all four sides. This was the first mission we had flown with the co-pilot as he was new in country. I was spraying the area with M-60 fire and I kept wondering why we were not trying to leave the LZ and I heard the gunner screaming that he had been hit and then I heard WO Burton state over the intercom that he had been shot. I looked over and saw WO Burton's head leaning back and he was facing upward. I could see the co-pilot fighting to get control of the helicopter. When WO1 Burton was shot, his left had wedged between the collective and the side of the ship and thus the co-pilot was having trouble getting the aircraft airborne as WO Burton's feet were on the foot pedals as well. But the co-pilot finally succeeded and I didn't think we were going to make it back and would have to crash land. We almost went down several times. A cobra came along side and radioed for us to slow down. Our gages had been shot out and we not aware of the air speed. The helicopter was shacking very badly. I was trying to tend to the gunner and WO Burton. The co-pilot was finally able to get the aircraft back to Quang Tri and we landed with difficulty. I was taken to triage along with gunner and WO Burton. WO Burton had been declared dead by the time they began to work on me. I was unhurt, but remember being next to WO Burton, when they said he was gone." A fellow pilot indicated that the flight surgeon told them that the wound WO Burton had sustained would have been very painful and would have been fatal within 40 seconds. The wound had entered the left side of his chest and had penetrated his heart. WO1 Burton was buried with full military honors in the Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. He was survived by his wife of Midland, Texas and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James E. Burton, Sr of Colorado Springs, and by his sisters, Bette Spencer of Montgomery, Colorado and Patty Wood of Jacksonville, Florida. JAMES E BURTON Jr is on the Wall at Panel 13W Line 077.

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed
married male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Protestant - no denominational preference
The following information secondary, but may help in explaining this incident.
Category of casualty as defined by the Army: battle dead Category of personnel: active duty Army Military class: warrant officer
This record was last updated on 03/05/2020

This information is available on CD-ROM.

Additional information is available on KIAs at http://www.coffeltdatabase.org

Please send additions or corrections to: The VHPA Webmaster Gary Roush.

KIA statistics

Return to the Helicopter Pilot KIA name list

Return to the KIA panel date index

Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association