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Opinion

Letter to the Editor: ‘Jane, your daddy is heading home’

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Lt. Cdr. James R. Bauder, a U.S. Navy pilot from La Cañada, was laid to rest Sept. 19 at Arlington National Cemetery, two years after his remains were found in the area of North Vietnam where his plane went down in 1966. A fellow former La Cañadan, Harlan Updegraff, today a resident of Tennessee, attended the Sept. 19 ceremony to pay his respects. Both Bauder and Updegraff were serving on the USS Coral Sea at the time Bauder went missing in action during a reconnaissance mission.
(Courtesy of Harlan Updegraff)

In June of 1966, 4-year-old Jane Bauder said goodbye to her daddy, Lt. Cdr. James R.Bauder, a former resident of La Cañada who was deployed on the USS Coral Sea as a F-4 Pantom fighter pilot.

The Coral Sea left San Francisco headed to the South China Sea to support the war in Vietnam. On Sept 21, 1966, Bauder and Lt. JG. James B. Mills were shot down during a reconnaissance mission. Despite years of searching, they were not found. The two had been classified as missing in action for 51 years when a North Vietnam fisherman brought the aircraft canopy up in his fishing net.

Little is known about the life of former La Cañada resident James Reginald Bauder, though his name and military rank appear on a bronze plaque in Memorial Park honoring those who lost their lives in service to their country.

The names of the two officers were stenciled on that canopy. This led to a search in 2017 of the sea bottom; the wreckage and some remains of the two officers were found.

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I was a young 20-year-old stationed on the Coral Sea at the same time, and I too was from La Cañada. I felt the need to be with our fellow La Cañada resident and shipmate at his internment.

Lt. Cdr. James R. Bauder was laid to rest Sept 19, 2019, at Arlington National Cemetery. In attendance were Jane Bauder, Chris Bauder, Lt. JG. Mills’ sister and myself.

James, may you have calm seas and a warm breeze at your back as you finish your mission. Jane, your daddy is heading home.

Harlan Updegraff
Baxter, Tenn.

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