JIM EDWARD OESTRIECH
JIM E OESTRIECH
11/08/2022 at 9:20am
Peace with Honor
Remembering An American Hero
As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.
May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.
With respect, and the best salute a civilian can muster for you, Sir
James Edward Oestreich
Army Specialist Four
Born: February 2, 1946
Died: March29, 1967
James Edward Oestreich was the son of Harvey and Hattie Oestreich. His maternal grandparents were John and Mary Krakora, and his paternal grandparents were Paul and Ida Oestreich.
Two of Jim’s school buddies, Gary Hedin and Dave Nyberg both agree, “Jim was a happy-go-lucky, bubbly kind of guy, who always had a smile on his face.”
Jim enjoyed hunting, fishing, and cars. He enjoyed working on cars and working in the garage with Dad, and Brother John. Sister Marjorie remembers, “Jim was fun to be around. He was always good for a joke.”
His brother -in –law, George, fondly remembers time spent hunting and fishing with Jim. His sister Peggy remembers the walks in the woods. She says, “’Jim taught me how to shoot a gun, drive a car, make a sling shot, and fish, and he encouraged me to do well in school.” He drove a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria. His dream was to buy a new car when he got home. He loved the outdoors and being in the woods, and owned a John Deere crawler and a McCullough chainsaw that he used for logging. Owning and operating a small business was a dream of the future for Jim, and he was also looking forward to buying land for stumpage, and doing some logging when he got home.
Jim was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Cromwell, and he graduated from Cromwell High School on May 28, 1964. He enjoyed taking Mom out to the blueberry patch, driving a Farmall “A” tractor and trailer. And even more so, he enjoyed eating her blueberry pies.
After graduation from High school, Jim worked in road construction as a flagman, and also worked in the woods, until he was drafted. He was inducted into the Army on November 15, 1965. He did his basic training at fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and he also trained to be an interrogator at Fort Holabird, Maryland. Jim wrote home, “I’m going to Vietnam. I don’t want you or anybody else to worry about it. Because of the job I’ve got now, I’ll be an interrogator in Saigon. I’m not too worried about it, but I’m not crazy about it, either. I know one thing, I’ll be home before I leave.”
Jim left for Vietnam on July 15, 1966, arriving there on August 4, 1966. On August 21, 1966, he wrote, “Left Saigon and all my old friends, they told me I couldn’t be an interrogator, because there’s nobody to interrogate.”
Jim joined the Sector Advisory Team in Tien Giang Province, which is in the Mekong River Delta in the Southern part of Vietnam, on the coast of the Gulf of Siam. The major city is the provincial capital of Rach Gia.
Jim’s Lieutenant Colonel wrote this about him; “Last November when our communications chief returned to the United States, we were left with no experienced radio or telephone operators. Jim voluntarily took over the responsibility for the entire communications system of this Advisory Team, to include the radio, telephone, and the mail system. These systems are the vital links between our eight districts in the province; the advisory teams on field operations, our three sector aircraft, all transient aircraft and helicopters in Rach Gia, and all the American Agencies, as well as our higher headquarters all over Vietnam. Throughout this period, Jim managed our communications skillfully and successfully, a most difficult feat, even for an experienced man. I have personally commended him for his outstanding performance of duty. Jim’s warm personality and ‘can do ‘spirit earned him the respect and friendship of every member of this team, regardless of rank.”
Jim’s first Sergeant wrote, “Jim told me that he had written his parents that his duties here were primarily as mail clerk and other clerical type of assignments. This he did in order not to cause his parents to worry. In truth, he did perform these duties, but only in addition to his regular duty as chief of our Communications sector. Although completely inexperienced in this field, he went to work at it as though he had been doing it for years. He became proficient in all aspects of his assignments; He accompanied the units on combat operations continually, while he was here. He has accompanied me on several and always did an outstanding job. He has been in several tight spots but was always courageous and never failed to operate as he was supposed to. The day of his death was a very sad day here in Rach Gia. As the official letter stated, he drowned while on a combat operation. They were in the process of crossing a river to search an area when Jim went under for no apparent reason. It is the belief of myself and many others, that he had a cramp and with the additional weight he was carrying was unable to get back to the surface. The river was quite rapid and moved him from the spot where he went down. Two American officers who were also with the unit, dived until they found him, one of them nearly drowning in the process. They performed all methods of resuscitation to get him conscious. When the helicopter picked him up, we had an anesthetist on board to give him oxygen, and then brought him to our surgical team here in Rach Gia. They initially thought he was going to pull through, but he passed away as we were transporting him from the hospital to a helicopter, which was going to take him to the U.S. hospital in Saigon. The doctors here later stated that he would have suffered permanent brain damage had he lived. Believe me, everyone on the team was waiting at the hospital, ready to give assistance necessary and saying a silent prayer for him. I can only say that the whole team suffered with you and your family when you received word of his death. He was highly thought of and respected by both officers and enlisted men here.” James was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Jim wrote in one of his letters home, “I’m glad that I’ve got the chance to do something for my country, and I want you and everybody else to be proud of the fact that I can.” If we had one chance to say something to Jim, we would like to tell him, “We love you and miss you so much, and we are so very proud of you!! We will never forget you, Jim!”
With Loving Memories
The Family of Jim Oestreich