A True Soldier: Sfc. James Bunn


A True Soldier

by Rachel Bunn Clinkscale

JAMES ALBERT BUNN is honored on Panel 36E, Row 66 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


All of his life, my husband James A. Bunn wanted to be a soldier. His Uncle Howard Royal died while serving in World War II, and he was Jim’s hero.

Even when he was a little boy, Jim was a leader and a protector.  I recall when he was six and I was five, we were playing in the park with some other children, one of whom stepped on a piece of glass and was bleeding. Jim picked her up and ran several blocks home with her to get help.

When Jim was 17, his mother signed for him to enter the Army. He served in Korea near the end of the conflict. When he came home, we were married.

He said to me, “If there is ever a war, I’ll be one of the first to volunteer to go.”

He served his first tour in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne from 1965-1966. After he came home, we were stationed at Ft. Campbell, Ky., where he was an instructor at the airborne jump school. He had been back less than a year when he came home and said the 3/506 was being reactivated, and he was going with them. He thought his experience might help to keep some of the young soldiers alive that were being sent to Vietnam.    Jim died Feb. 2, 1968, trying to rescue one of those young soldiers.

Years later, I heard from several of those young men who described what happened and how Jim died.  Jim was the platoon sergeant for Company A of the 3/506 and following are some of the comments made by those who served with him:


“Platoon Sgt. James Bunn has rarely ever been far from my mind. He was a good man and brave, and all of those things that we admire about exceptionally honorable people.  I never worried about anything because I knew Jim Bunn had my back covered, and he did.”

—Lt. John Harrison


“Vaughn [DeWaay] was there when Jim was hit and returned to bring him out. He loved Jim so much, he was the one person he would talk about. He called Jim his ‘father figure’ and said there wasn’t a time that Jim wouldn’t sit and listen when he needed to talk to someone.”

Catherine DeWaay, wife of Vaugh DeWaay


“Platoon Sgt. Bunn was our mentor and hero. His men respected him very much and would follow him ‘to hell and back.’”

—Jerry Berry


“The day after Jim was KIA [killed in action], I helped evacuate him on the chopper, at which time I put my hand on him and gave him my ‘Aloha.’  Throughout all these years, I have thought about that day. As platoon sergeants, we tried to watch over the men as much as possible. Jim was much more experienced and made me feel confident that I also would do a good job. I feel I owe him a great deal.”

—Joe Jerviss (Pineapple)


My husband was a true soldier who died for what he believed in. Not many of us can say that or be remembered this way.  All of the names on The Wall represent individuals who were and are our true heroes.