Panel 44 E, Line 14

James Henry Calfee was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force when he was Killed in Action in Laos on 11 March 1968. Calfee was born 05 January 1932, and his home city of record is Newgulf, Texas. Calfee's remains have not been returned.


Not on Official DIA List - TDY Civ/Lockheed

Project Heavy Green/Lima 85

When James Calfee volunteered for a sensitive assignment called Project Heavy Green, his wife had to sign a secrecy agreement too. Calfee, an Air Force man, was to be temporarily relieved of duty to take a civilian job with Lockheed Aircraft. He would be helping operate Lima 85, a radar base in Laos, whose neutrality prohibited U.S. military presence. The radar site would direct U.S. air traffic from Thailand over the hostile territory of Laos and into North Vietnam. No one was to know.

Lima 85 was on a peak in the Annam Highlands near the village of Sam Neua on a 5860 ft. mountain called Phou Pha Thi. The mountain was protected by sheer cliffs on three sides, and guarded by 300 tribesmen working for CIA. Unarmed US "civilians" operated the radar which swept across the Tonkin Delta to Hanoi.

The Incident

For three months in early 1968, a steady stream of intelligence was received which indicated that communist troops were about to launch a major attack on Lima 85. Intelligence watched as enemy troops even built a road to the area to facilitate moving heavy weapons, but the site was so important that William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, made the decision to leave the men in place.

When the attack finally came 11 March, some were rescued by helicopter, but eleven men were missing. The President announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam.

Donald Westbrook was flying one of four A1Es orbiting on stand-by to search for survivors of the attack at Phou Pha Thi when his plane was shot down 13 March. Westbrook was never found. Finding no survivors, the Air Force destroyed Lima 85 to prevent the equipment from falling into the hands of the enemy.

In mid-March, Edna Calfee was notified that Lima Site 85 had been overrun by enemy forces, and that her husband and the others who had not escaped had been killed. Many years later, she learned that was not the whole truth.

Two separate reports indicate that all the men missing at Phou Pha Thi did not die. One report suggests that at least one of the 11 was captured, and another indicates that 3 were captured; another that 6 were captured. Information has been hard to get. The fact that Lima Site 85 existed was only declassified in 1983, and finally the wives could be believed when they said their husbands were missing in Laos. Some of the men's files were shown to their families for the first time in 1985.

Edna Calfee and the other wives have talked and compared notes. They still feel there is a lot of information to be had. They believe someone survived the attack on Lima Site 85 that day in March 1968. They wonder if their country will ever bring those men home.


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.

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