James Birch Petteys

Warrant Officer
Army Of The United States
27 March 1948 - 15 January 1969
Shippensburg, PA
Panel 34W Line 009


Army Aviator

DFC, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
James B Petteys

The database page for James Birch Petteys

02 Aug 2001

Warrant Officer James Petteys was flying with my father, 1LT Sterling Cox, when they were killed.

God Bless,
Michael Cox

The Mission

Two men of C Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry, died when their AH-1G COBRA (hull number 67-15651) was shot down: The gunship had crashed on a heavily forested slope. Other men of C Troop were promptly inserted to rescue Cox and Petteys. After working their way through the jungle to the crash site, they found both crewmen dead. They removed the bodies in order to carry them back to the landing zone.

While enroute to the LZ, the rescue forces came under heavy fire and in short order were surrounded. In the ensuing fight, PFC Garland Langhorn distinguished himself by covering an enemy hand grenade with his own body in order to save his comrades from death or injury.

Garland Langhorn was the only one of the rescue party who died. His body, together with those of Lieutenant Cox and Warrant Officer Petteys, was brought out by the other men of C Troop.

PFC Garland M. Langhorn not only gave his life for his country but also for my father - First Lieutenant Sterling E. Cox. PFC Garland Langhorn received the Medal of Honor for his act of heroism.

LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND - artist Joe Kline

"LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND" by Joe Kline, 101st Abn Div
Published by Americana Historical Art
Used with permission of the artist.
Joe Kline, himself a helicopter crewman with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, captured the intentions of the troopers of C Troop, 7th Sqd - to LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND - and they didn't. On 15 Jan 69 they held their ground and brought out their dead and wounded.
29 June 2002

This memorial is submitted by the family of WO1 James B. Petteys as a tribute to him and to 1LT Sterling E. Cox. It recounts the events surrounding their deaths as taken from US Army correspondence received by both families.

"On the afternoon of 15 Jan 1969, First Lieutenant Cox and Warrant Officer Petteys were flying an AH-1G Cobra gunship on a reconnaissance mission providing air support for elements of the 4th Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. 1LT Cox was the aircraft commander and leader of the aerial weapons team and WO Petteys was the pilot/gunner of the aircraft. At approximately 4:20 pm, after hours of concentrated search, the aero-scout elements reported a number of heavily used trails leading to a reinforced bunker complex. After receiving clearance and firing into the position, the aero-scouts radioed that they were receiving a heavy volume of enemy automatic weapons fire. Without hesitation, 1LT Cox and WO Petteys drew the enemy’s fire to themselves and away from the vulnerable scout helicopters by diving their aircraft at the source of the ground fire and engaging the position with rockets and minigun fire. Their aircraft sustained disabling hits which prohibited recovery from its last dive. Even then, they continued to saturate the enemy bunker area with minigun fire until their helicopter exploded in flames and plunged to the ground. Both men died instantly upon impact."
Submitted in loving memory by the Petteys family.
Lloyd Petteys, Jr.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 08/10/2009