Thursday, April 21, 2011

One more salute for Sgt. James Harold Alley

Sgt. James Alley
Sgt. James Harold Alley was laid to rest in Arcadia last May. Remarkable story. He died April 6, 1972, when his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam while on a rescue mission. It would be 38 years before his remains finally came home to his family.

Richard St. Peter of Newport News, Va., called this week to say thanks for our story last year that reported that Sgt. Alley's remains had finally been identified through advances in science and that he had been interred with full military honors.

St. Peter,  a former U.S. Air Force combat photographer based with the 600th Photo Squadron at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base, knew Jim Alley.

They played softball together at Vandenburg Air Force Base. Jim was a left fielder. St. Peter was the catcher.

When Jim Alley was lost in the downing of that helicopter, it was a real shock in the small community of combat photographers, St. Peter said this week in a phone  call from Virginia.

"It was a quiet day when they came in and said he had been shot down," St. Peter said. "He was a nice guy."

"It was a long time coming," said St. Peter of Sgt. Alley's homecoming.

St. Peter continues to do national defense work after all these years.
He is presently assigned as a civilian with the Joint Forces Command, Suffolk, Va., as a video producer.

In all those years, he never forgot his friend, and even visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D. C., to get a rubbing of Sgt. Alley's name from Panel 02W, Line 130.

But it was just this week that he learned the conclusion of the Jim Alley story by searching the worldwide web.

For the story of Jim Alley's long journey home, visit:

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