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Delouise Guerra the sister of Marine PFC James Jacques is presented the
flag that draped his casket at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver
on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. The Jacques funeral was held 37 years after he
was killed during the rescue of the crew of an American cargo ship
seized by Cambodia in May of 1975. His remains were identifies in August
2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

"He was a very loving, very caring – well, he was my baby brother," she said. "He was just a really good person."

Jacques grew up in La Junta, a
small town about 140 miles southeast of Denver. He joined the Marines
in October 1974, shortly after his 18th birthday. His family was
apprehensive but didn't try to dissuade him, Guerra said.

"It was something he wanted to do," Guerra said. "He wanted to go and serve his country and do his best."


By DAN ELLIOTT
Associated Press

DENVER (AP) – A Colorado
family's years of waiting ended Tuesday when they finally buried a
fallen Marine who had been missing since a helicopter crash during the
rescue of an American ship crew seized by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge in
1975.

Pfc. James Jacques (HAW'-kas)
was laid to rest with full military honors at Fort Logan National
Cemetery in Denver on what would have been his 56th birthday.

About 50 Vietnam War veterans
holding American flags lined a street in the sprawling hilltop cemetery.
Doves were released after three volleys were fired into the air.

"We never lost hope that he
would come home, and that day has come," said Delouise Guerra, Jacques'
older sister. "Now we all have closure."

Jacques, then 18 years old,
was on a helicopter that crashed during the rescue of the cargo ship
S.S. Mayaguez (my-ah-GWEZ) crew in May 1975. Of the 26 people aboard the
helicopter, 13 were rescued and the other 13 were declared missing,
including Jacques.

Jacques was among hundreds of
Marines and airmen sent to storm Koh Tang Island, about 60 miles off the
coast of Cambodia, to rescue the Mayaguez crew. The helicopter carrying
Jacques crashed into the surf off Koh Tang Island amid unexpectedly
heavy fire from Cambodian fighters.

All 39 crew Mayaguez members were released safely by Cambodia, but some 40 U.S. servicemen were killed.

Jacques' identification dog
tags were found in 1992, but his remains weren't positively identified
until this year, said Air Force Maj. Carie Parker of the Defense
Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office.


Pfc.-James-Jacques-identified-after-37-years

A Cambodian had turned over
the remains to a U.S.-Cambodian search team in 2007. Newly available DNA
technology allowed researchers to confirm the identity this year.

Guerra got the news in a letter from the Marines that arrived at her Denver home on Aug. 14. Her son Bob was with her.

"I started crying because I knew it was about my brother," she said. "We were crying, we jumped, we hollered."

Guerra, now 71, was 15 when Jacques was born.

"He was a very loving, very caring – well, he was my baby brother," she said. "He was just a really good person."

Jacques grew up in La Junta, a
small town about 140 miles southeast of Denver. He joined the Marines
in October 1974, shortly after his 18th birthday. His family was
apprehensive but didn't try to dissuade him, Guerra said.

"It was something he wanted to do," Guerra said. "He wanted to go and serve his country and do his best."

Jacques died just seven months after enlisting.

Twelve of the 13 missing
servicemen are now confirmed to have died, Parker said. She said she
could not discuss the 13th because an investigation is ongoing.

The Mayaguez operation is
considered the last U.S. military engagement in Southeast Asia after the
long and bloody war in Vietnam. The last U.S. combat troops left South
Vietnam in 1973, and the South Vietnamese capital fell to North Vietnam
on April 30, 1975, just two weeks before the Mayaguez engagement.

Comments

  1. I was at Yokuska, part of the VMAQ-2 detachment aboard the USS Midway, when the Koh Tang Marines arrived from their mission. There was no joy on their faces as they walked up the hill toward the main gate, on their way to liberty. I’ll never forget that day. Welcome home James.

  2. Thanks to all who continue working to find, identify and bring home the brave men & women who have served our country and sacrificed their lives to do so.

  3. Thank you for posting this story, good to read this Sis has been given some peace at last. God bless all those that continue this effort year in and year out to bring our fallen home.

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