JAMES ROBERT KLIMO
Sergeant First Class, Combat Aviation Door Gunner
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Muskegon, Michigan
Date of Birth: December 28, 1949
Joined the 281st on an unknown date in 1969
Killed in Action on May 8th, 1968.
Helicopter 67-19512 crashed in bad weather into rough terrain.
Status changed from MIA to Presumed to be Dead.
On November 4, 1969, James Robert Klimo, from Muskegon, Michigan was serving as the Door Gunner on UH-1H 67-19512 along with WO Terry L. Alford, aircraft commander; WO1 Jim R. Cavender, pilot; and SP4 John A. Ware, crew chief. The crew were flying a series of combat support missions in in South Vietnam. WO Alford was returning to his base at Nha Trang from Duc Lap at about 1920 hours when he made his last known radio contact with the 48th Aviation Company Operations at Ninh Hoa. Either the pilot or aircraft commander gave his approximate location as Duc My Pass, and stated he was in the clouds and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Shortly afterwards, the controller at Ninh Hoa heard a radio transmission that WO1 Alford was in trouble. The pilot reported, inexplicably, that the helicopter was flying upside down. The helicopter is not believed to received ground fire. Search efforts were conducted for six consecutive days, but nothing was found.
From Don Budlong:
I first heard of Jim Klimo sometime in late 1967 while I was at Ft. Eustis while attending aircraft engine school with two other former 281st people, Mike Price and Jodie Joiner. After seeing a photograph of my girlfriend, Mike commented to me that he had a friend back in Michigan whose wife looked just like her. He said they looked so much alike that they could pass for sisters. That friend was Jim Klimo and if I recall correctly his wife’s name was Monica.
About two years later Jim Klimo showed up in the 281st company area as a new door gunner. Mike Price introduced us and I immediately had to ask to see a photo of his wife. A strange request under most circumstances but Jim soon understood why. Sure enough his wife looked like she and my ex-girlfriend came from the same mold. We joked about it then and later had many good times at the club.
When Jim’s ship went down in November 1969, I was in Quang Tri and knew nothing about it until my return to Nha Trang. What a shock! We missed him then and still miss him now. My wife and I had POW bracelets of Jim and fellow crewmember John Ware that we wore for many years. I gave the John Ware bracelet to John’s mother Aileen Ware in Houston. I still wear Jim’s bracelet on special occasions and have never forgotten him.
-- Don Budlong
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER....ALWAYS AN INTRUDER