ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) - American flags lined the road to Boyd County War Memorial in Armco Park for a service Saturday held in honor of Kentucky veteran who was last seen flying over the South China Sea on July 16, 1969.
Capt. James V. Dawson served in the United States Air Force. He is one of 14 missing in action soldiers across the state of Kentucky. Rolling Thunder Chapter 5 of Lexington organized a memorial for the fallen solider to honor his life and to pay their respects to his family.
“The turnout was amazing,” said Rolling Thunder Chapter 5 spokesman Todd Matonich. “The local area really came out (to honor Dawson).”
The ceremony included a reading of Dawson’s biography and concluded with a final goodbye for the Captain. Veterans stepped up to a wreath and photo placed on the memorial and gave a final salute or placed their hand over their heart.
“During his final approach to land (Captain) Dawson encountered strong crosswinds over the runway and was instructed to go around for another approach,” from the biography of Dawson. “He appeared to apply power to his aircraft, and shortly thereafter, the Control Officer observed the canopy come off and the ejection seat fire as the aircraft rolled to the right. At this time the aircraft was nearly one mile from the end of the runway and at an altitude estimated to be 300 feet above the South China Sea.”
Search parties responded immediately to the site accident and searched until dark.
Dawson’s relatives are his wife, two children and a first cousin. His wife and two children have relocated from the area and weren’t at the memorial. His first cousin, Bobby Dawson, attended the memorial.
He said the memorial was an amazing event. He thanked Rolling Thunder for remembering his cousin.
Rolling Thunder Chapter 5 plans to continue the tradition of honoring missing in action and prisoner of war veterans throughout Kentucky, and describes the service as a honor.
“There are still 14 families who don’t know what happened to their Vietnam service member,” said Matonich. “And that is huge (to not know what happened.) We need them to know we haven’t forgotten.”