Fallen Warrior: Sgt. James D. Locker
By Senior Airman Seth Haddix, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 10, 2021
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Sgt. James D. Locker was a rescue specialist aboard a HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter with the call sign Jolly Green 23. The Jolly Green 23 was on a search and rescue mission for a downed A-4E Skyhawk pilot named Lt. Walter Schmidt Jr. Reports stated that Lt Schmidt was injured, suspended in a dense forest by his parachute and in need of rescue. Upon Jolly Green 23’s arrival to the evacuation site, the helicopter came under enemy fire. The U.S. Coast Guard pilot, Lt. Jack C. Rittichier, was informed of a small fire coming from their rear engine. Lt. Rittichier proceeded to a clearing to set the damaged helicopter down. As they descended, the main rotor shut off just above the tree line. The Jolly Green 23 helicopter then dropped to the ground and burst into flames. There were no survivors. In 2003, an excavation of the crash site was conducted, and the remains of the crewmen were returned to the U.S.
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