James William Brown was a Private in the United States Marine Corps when he was Killed in Action in South Vietnam on 05 April 1966. Brown was born on 22 July 1946, and his home city of record is Maud, Texas. Brown's remains have not been returned.
No further information is available at this time.
Gone, but never forgotten
America's fighters may be missing in action, but they never leave loved ones' hearts
By: Greg Bischof - Texarkana Gazette08/30/2008
To this day, Maud resident Becky Sorsby remembers her mom's reaction on that dark day in April, 1966.
A gentle knock announced a cold and stark reality: Shirley Ellen Embry's oldest son wouldn't be coming home.
"I remember some people coming to our front door and then I remembered Mom running to the back of the house and crying," said Sorsby, just five at the time.
Sorsby soon found out that she lost her oldest brother.
Just a few days before this somber official government notification, U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. James William Brown, as lead scout for his reconnaissance patrol, was taking a lead rope across the Rach La River in Vietnam's Mekong River Delta, when he went missing in action - apparently during hostile enemy activity, according to government records.
The records included the words "Body Not Recovered."
"I can still remember peeking at Jimmy and him chasing me around the couch while he was still at home," Sorsby said, looking at a black-and-white photo of her being held by her brother. The photo was taken on bleak winter day outside their Maud home in late 1962. "I can still remember sitting in his lap while he drove our family car. I worked the steering wheel while he worked the gas pedal and the brakes."
Forty-five years ago today, Brown, then, a 17 year-old high school student living in Maud, decided to abruptly quit school and join the Marines. It was Aug. 30, 1963.
"At that time, Jimmy just wanted to get out of small-town U.S.A. like a lot of other kids at that time," said John Brown, his younger brother. "Back then, the Marines rotated locations every three months - starting from San Diego to Pearl Harbor to Okinawa to Vietnam. He was on his second tour to Vietnam he he was reported missing."
John Brown said he last saw his brother in February or March of 1966.
"At that time, I asked Jimmy why he was going back. He just told me that it was because he was a Marine and that's what they were trained to do."
Almost two years after his brother was reported missing, John Brown decided to vacate his small town by the same means. He joined the U.S. Army in May 20, 1968 to become a parachute, maintenance and air drop specialist.
While awaiting deployment orders at a training school, John Brown received his travel orders to Vietnam, but they were soon rescinded.
"They passed out orders to me to go to Vietnam, but five minutes later they told me I didn't have to go because my brother was MIA," John Brown said.
However, he decided to go anyway.
"I wanted to go because I knew Jimmy was out there and I wanted to be there in honor of him," John Brown said.
Having already experienced the loss of one brother, Sorsby said John Brown's decision to join the Army just two years after James' disappearance, frightened her.
"I was scared and afraid that John also wouldn't be coming back," she said.
John Brown would go on to serve two tours in Vietnam - the first one in the Mekong Delta, the other near the town of Piei Mnang in South Vietnam's Central Highlands.
While on his first tour, John Brown managed to visit the Rach La River site in about December of 1968, the same site where his brother was reported missing in action eight months before.
"I just wanted to see where Jimmy had disappeared," John Brown said. "It gave me some degree of understanding about what happened."
After his discharge in 1971, John returned to Bowie County to work at the Red River Army Depot. Sorby would eventually become Bowie County District Court Criminal coordinator.
To this day, John Brown said he still receives correspondence from the U.S. Navy regarding the continual search for MIAs in Vietnam - but nothing specific about his brother.
John Brown said the Navy did inform him about 10 years ago that it was going to suspend the specific search for his brother, due in large measure to the lack of any new investigative leads in his disappearance.
About that same time (early 1990s), the Navy took some DNA samples from his mom, Shirley Embry. But so far, there's been no match.
More than 42 years since her brother's disappearance, Sorsby said she as practically given up all hope that his remains will be found and returned, although she added that his discovery and return would bring some closure to their mother, who is now 80 years old and still living in Bowie County.
John Brown agrees.
"To me, it's a done issue, but it would help mom," he said. "I just don't think his remains will ever be found after all these years and because of where he disappeared."
Biographical and incident of loss information was obtained from either POW/NET and/or Task Force Omega, Inc (unless otherwise noted). Additional information may be found via remembrances at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund or The Virtual Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Above article © The Texarkana Gazette and is used with permission.