James L. Badley was born in Portland, Oregon, 16 April 1942. He started his schooling in Portland, but because his father was a career service man, he attended schools in many locations - Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Tripoli, Libya. In 1960 he graduated from high school in Mountain Home, Idaho.
While in Washington D.C., he received his Eagle Scout award at the age of 13. He went on to achieve his God and Country and Bronze Palm awards. He was also a member of DeMolay.
He attended Oregon State University and received a Production-Technical Engineering degree in 1965. While at OSU, he was president of Theta Chi Fraternity, an officer on the Intra-Fraternity Council, member of Arnold Air Society, Scabbard and Blade, Silver Wings Drill Team, and was on the OSU Varsity Swim Team. He was presented the AAS award, which was given to the outstanding junior cadet who had developed inspirational leadership ability, military bearing, attitude, and initiative.
In June 1965, he received his commission and began flight training at Williams AFB, Arizona. In October 1966 he received his Pilot Wings and was assigned to Davis-Monthan AFB for combat training in the F-4 Phantom. After graduating in August 1966, he requested combat duty at DaNang Air Base, Vietnam. He started flying combat missions on 22 September 1967.
On 20 November 1967 while flying his 25th mission in North Vietnam, Lt. Badley's aircraft was shot down and he was forced to bail out. He remained calm under the pressure of intense small arms fire and vectored the rescue helicopter to his position within seconds of Viet Cong capture. For his heroic actions, he received the Silver Star for Gallantry and the Air Medal for Meritorious Achievement.
Lt. Badley was selected as a regular Air Force officer in November, and was also nominated for Junior Officer of the Year by his wing (366th TAC Fighter Wing). His additional duties at Da Nang Air Base included: Assistant Operations Officer, Assistant Finance Officer, MPC Conversion Officer, United Fund Officer Assistant Alert Facility Officer, and Awards and Decorations Officer. Later that month, Lt. Badley volunteered for fifty additional North Vietnam missions in addition to his required one hundred. He was scheduled to upgrade to Command Pilot on 15 April 1968.
Lt. Badley displayed his bravery again on 14 March 1968. On this day, with marginal weather conditions, he helped in the rescue of two downed pilots. He continued to attack and drew enemy fire away from the rescue aircraft, even after expending all available ordinance. For his selfless role in the rescue, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
While flying his eighty-fifth mission on 27 March 1968, Lt. Badley was shot down and thereafter listed Missing In Action (MIA). 1Lt. James L. Badley was officially declared Killed In Action (KIA) on 8 May 1968.
He was held in high esteem by his fellow officers for his dedication and initiative in doing what he personally felt needed doing in Vietnam. He loved his fellow man regardless of race or creed and wholeheartedly believed in freedom, justice and liberty for all people - to which he dedicated his life.
The Arnold Air Society at Oregon State University changed its name to the 1st Lt. James L. Badley Squadron on 31 May 1991. The previous name was the Nathan F. Twining Squadron, which had been adopted when AAS was first chartered at OSU on 14 November 1951.
"Rest In Peace James You Are Missed By All Who Knew You"