Another Unusual Vietnam War Helmet-Return Story
Above Photo: US flight helmet discarded in the jungles of North Vietnam nearly fifty years ago (Pueblo Chieftan)
Having only a couple of days ago featured the story of a US Veteran returning a bullet-riddled North Vietnamese pith helmet which he’d picked up during the Vietnam War (article here: http://peteralanlloyd.com/the-vietnam-war/vietnam-vet-gives-back-north-vietnamese-bullet-riddled-helmet/), I was interested to read in the Pueblo Chieftan of yet another Vietnam War helmet being returned, but this time going the other way – from Vietnam to a US Veteran.
© The Pueblo Chieftan
In 1965 James Randall, was on a bombing mission in North Vietnam flying an F-105 when it was suddenly shot down.
“The airplane was going down and I knew I had to get out fast,” Randall said.
He ejected from the plane and began parachuting, leaving the wake of the bombs the plane had just dropped and the wreckage of the plane in the rearview.
“I don’t recall any of the events that took place from the time I reached for the trigger to eject until the time I was finally out and floating through the air,” Randall said.
Randall eventually landed in a jungle outside of a village.
While finding a place to hide, Randall disposed of non-essential items, such as his flightsuit.
Randall was eventually rescued by helicopter after suffering some injuries but didn’t have his flight helmet because he left it behind in the jungle.
Recently, that helmet was returned to Randall, much to his surprise and delight.
“I received a call,” he said. “and the man on the other end of the line told me he had my helmet from Vietnam and I couldn’t believe it.”
The helmet had been purchased at a market in Cambodia by an acquaintance of the man who called Randall.
The man, an ex-Marine, had been searching for Randall since 2007 when he learned that the helmet with Randall’s name inscribed on it still existed.
Forty-eight years after losing it in a Vietnam jungle, Randall was reunited with his helmet in early August.
“They really wanted to get it back to me, or if I happened to not still be around, at least to my family,” Randall said. “It’s pretty amazing. I never thought I would see this thing again.”
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
For more recent Vietnam War Items Returned stories see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/the-vietnam-war/aussie-vets-return-vietnam-war-relics-to-north-vietnamese-families/ (North Vietnamese items)
Peter Alan Lloyd
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