James Hutton was born in 1932 in Washington, D.C. He was commissioned in the U.S. Navy through Officer Candidate School on November 9, 1955. After completing Air Ground Officers School, Aviation Electronics Officer School, and Bombardier-Navigator Training, Hutton began flying A-3 Skywarriers with VAH-9. His next assignment was as the Phase Head of the Radar-Bombing Phase of the Bombardier-Navigator School with VAH-3. Hutton next served with VAH-13 and then RVAH-3, where he qualified in the A-5A Vigilante. During his time at VAH-13, he was selected as one of the crew members to be sent to Columbus, Ohio to the North American Plant to become qualified in the RA-5C. In September 1964, Hutton was transferred to RVAH-1, flying RA-5Cs as a Reconnaissance Attack Navigator. He began flying combat missions with RVAH-1 off the USS Independence in May 1965, and was forced to eject over North Vietnam on October 16, 1965. LCDR Hutton and his pilot were immediately captured and taken as Prisoners of War. After spending the next 2,676 days in captivity, Hutton was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. Captain Hutton retired from the Navy on January 31, 1979.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. On 15 July 1966, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.