JAMES JOHN SHERECK
Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Died non-battle
Date of Service: Vietnam War
Home Town: Shevlin Township
1. James Shereck 2. Capt. Shereck in Mohawk Pilot School 3, 4 and 5. James Shereck 6. James Shereck headstone in Silver Bay Cemetery
James John Shereck was born March 19, 1939 in Bagley, Minnesota to Gilbert and Adeline Drtina Shereck of Shevlin Township. Gilbert was a North Dakota native who had come to the Bagley area in 1921. Adeline was also born in North Dakota. She married Gilbert on June 16, 1931 at Bagley and they had five sons and a daughter: Ronald, John, James, Vernon, Dennis and Dorene. Adeline worked at the hospital for several years as a cook and Gilbert drove school bus. The children attended school at Bagley Elementary and Bagley High School. Young daughter Dorene died of complications of the measles in February 1939 when she was only seven years old.
James enlisted in the Navy after high school, completed a four-year enlistment and then enlisted in the Army. He was accepted for the Army’s Warrant Officer Pilot program and received his wings on February 14, 1967. He completed a full tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967/68 assigned to the 191st Assault Helicopter Company. After receiving an officer’s commission in the Army Reserve, he completed fixed-wing flight training and was returned to Vietnam as part of the 131st Aviation Company, 16th Aviation Group, 212th Aviation Battalion at Phu Bai.
The OV1 Mohawks that Captain Shereck flew were spy planes equipped with infrared, radar or photo surveillance systems. They worked in conjunction with C119 and C130 gunships over the Ho Chi Minh Trail complex, helping to kill “movers” and disrupt the flow of supplies. The plane had a top speed of over 300 mph in a dive. The Mohawks had no armament so if a MIG showed up the pilot had to rely on evasive tactics or cloud cover.
On March 4, 1971, while returning from a night reconnaissance mission, James’ aircraft experienced dual engine failure three miles south of Phu Bai airfield. He remained in the aircraft until his technical observer had safely ejected, then he ejected. The parachute on his ejection seat failed to deploy and he fell to the tarmac still strapped in his seat. His observer landed safely on the airfield ramp with only a minor ankle injury.
In April of 1964 James had married Susan Marie Harling of Lake County, Minnesota. The couple had three children: Tony, Dawn and Christine. After a funeral with military honors, James’ body was interred in Silver Bay Cemetery, Lake County, Minnesota. He was 31 years old at the time of his death.
During his career, James had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.