MARCH 1, 1924 - SEPTEMBER 26, 1967

The following appeared in the Las Vegas Sun September, 1967:

"Military authorities Wednesday revealed little information about the fatal crash of a veteran Air Force pilot who apparently was on a highly classified mission at the Nevada Test site in his F-101 Voodoo reconnaissance twin jet airplane.

Officials at Nellis Air Force Base said the pilot was enroute to Nellis from Wright-Patterson AFB, near Dayton, Ohio, at the time of the crash Tuesday night.

But, the briefness of the Nellis statement was a certain indication that the pilot was engaged in a secret mission which somehow involved the air Force's secret test base in Area 51 at the Nevada Test Site.

"Area 51" in the dry lake bed - called Groom Lake - where the U-2 spy plane was tested, and later it's successor, the SR-71. Not even "Q-cleared" AEC personnel are allowed in this base. It is so secret that the few employees face dismissal if they look skyward when an aircraft is overhead.

The pilot was identified as Lt. Col. James Simon, Jr., 43, of Las Vegas who was temporarily attached to the 1129th special activities group - apparently at the Ohio air base.

Military officials said only that the crash was "about 50 miles west of Caliente". this would be about 100 miles north of Las Vegas.

It was learned unofficially that the plane crashed just off the runway of the landing strip in the secret test area. The runway has been called the Watertown Air Strip in recent years.

Simon lived at 620 Landry Drive, Las Vegas, with his wife Laura, and sons, James III, Gregory and Scott. His parents are enroute here from their home in Sedalia, MO."

Memorial services will be conducted at 2 pm Friday at the Nellis Air Force Base chapel. The remains of the much-decorated veteran pilot will be sent to the east for burial in Arlington National Cemetery at Arlington, VA.

Officials at Nellis Air Force base said that memorial services also would be held Friday at Osawatomie, KS.

The veteran pilot had been in the USAF, and its predecessor, the U.S. Army Air Force, for the past 25 years. He had 14 awards and decorations from the two branches of service dating back to WWII and topped by the Air Medal."

Two obituaries were posted, one in the Sedalia, MO paper and one in the Osawatomie, KS paper:

Obituary 1 (Sedalia):

Lt. Col. James S. Simon, 43, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Simon, Sr., 1620 West Broadway, was killed Tuesday night when the F-101 Voodoo jet fighter he was piloting crashed in a remote area of the Atomic Energy Commission's Nevada test site. the accident occurred about 8:20 pm according to word received in Sedalia.

Simon was reported to have been enroute from Wright-Patterson AFB at Dayton, Ohio, to the Nellis AFB near Las Vegas, NV. The crash occurred in what is referred to as "Area 51" on the underground nuclear testing area. It was officially listed as 50 miles due west of Caliente, NV.

Lt. Col. Simon is married and the father of three sons, all of the home in Las Vegas.

His parents were notified of the accident Wednesday.

Jim Simon, his father, is superintendent of the Missouri Pacific Shops, and left Wednesday afternoon for Las Vegas to be with his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren.

His mother, Mrs. Audrey Simon, and sister, Mrs. June Bonner, were in shock and admitted to the Bothwell Hospital for medical treatment.

Lt. Col. Simon was a career officer in the air force. He entered the service when he was 17 years old and worked his way up through promotions to his present rank.

He was born March 1, 1924, at Chanute, KS, where his father was with the railroad, and later moved with his parents as a young boy to Osawatomie, KS where he was reared and educated.

He was married April 21, 1944 at Little Rock, AR to Miss Laura Mae Biggerstaff, Osawatomie, KS., after he had received his wings in the Army air Corps, later the United States Air Force. Lt. Col. Simon and his wife grew up in Osawatomie and went through school together.

Surviving Lt. Col. Simon is his wife, Laura Mae (Biggerstaff) Simon and their three sons, James S. Simon III, 19, Gregory 15, and Scott, one month, all of the home in Las Vegas. Also surviving him are his parents, a sister, Mrs. June Bonner, of the family home in Sedalia, 1620, West Broadway, and Mrs. Betty Lehmeyer, Kansas City, MO.

Military services will be held at the Nellis AFB, NV, near Las Vegas, after which the body will be taken to Osawatomie, KS where services are to be conducted at the Birchard Funeral Home at 2 pm Sunday.

The body is then to be taken to Washington, D.C. where military services and burial in Arlington National Cemetery will be held. The body will be accompanied to Washington by his family and his father.

 Obituary 2 (Osawatomie Graphic, October 5, 1967):

 Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at Birchard Funeral Home for Lt. Col. James S. Simon, Jr. of Las Vegas, NV, a one-time resident of Osawatomie.

Lt. Col. Simon, 43, was killed last Tuesday night when the F-101 Voodoo jet fighter he was piloting crashed in a remote area of the Atomic Energy Commission's Nevada test site.

Simon was enroute from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, OH, to the Nellis AFB near Las Vegas. The crash reportedly occurred near the runway of a secret Air Force experimental station.

Air Force officials said the cause of the crash has not been determined. An investigating board of the Air Force experts is checking all phases of the mishap.

Lt. Col. Simon was born in Chanute on March 1, 1924, where his father was a railroad employee. The family later moved to Osawatomie where young Simon attended school. He was graduated from Osawatomie High with the Class of 1942.

Simon was married April 21, 1944 at Little rock, AR to Miss Laura Mae Biggerstaff of Osawatomie after receiving his wings in the Army Air Corps, later the United States Air Force. Lt. Col. Simon and his wife grew up in Osawatomie and attended school together.

After being commissioned, Lt. Col. Simon attended an Air Force instructor pilot school at Bryan AFB, TX, until Aug, 1945. He then attended an advanced single engine course at William's AFB, AZ, until Aug. 1949.

From Sept. 1949 to July 1963, he was assigned to the Air Defense Command at various bases, including O'Hare AFB, IL; Trause AFB, Wisc., Naha AFB, Okinawa Presque Isle AFB, ME.; DOW AFB, ME.; and Tyndall AFB, Fla.

During this period, he was graduated from the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell, AFB, AL. While at Tyndall, he directed the tactic programs and development division "TPD" of the Air Force interceptor weapons schools.

From July 1963 until July 1966, Lt. Col. Simon served as an operations staff officer at PACAF headquarters, Hickam AFB, Hawaii. He was then assigned to Detachment 1, 1129th special activities squadron in Las Vegas, of which he remained at the time of his death.

The veteran pilot had 14 awards and decorations, topped by the air Medal.

Survivors include his widow and three sons, James III, Gregory, and Scott Christopher, all of the home; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Simon of Sedalia, MO; two sisters, June Bonner of Sedalia, MO and Betty Lohmeyer of Kansas City, MO.

Officiating at the services was Chaplain (Col.) Hoyt H. Wood of the 10th Air Force staff at Richards Gebaur AFB, MO. Music was provided by Mrs. Allen Young, and Miss Nancye Young, accompanied at the organ by Mrs. Hugh Phares.

Burial was in Arlington National Cemetery, VA.

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