Medal of Honor
BONDSTEEL, JAMES LEROY
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 2d Battalion, 2d Infantry, 1st Infantry Division
Place and date: An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam, 24 May 1969
Entered service at: Detroit, Michigan
Born: 18 July 1947, Jackson, Michigan
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bondsteel distinguished himself while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company A, near the village of Lang Sau. Company A was directed to assist a friendly unit which was endangered by intense fire from a North Vietnamese battalion located in a heavily fortified base camp. S/Sgt. Bondsteel quickly organized the men of his platoon into effective combat teams and spear-headed the attack by destroying 4 enemy occupied bunkers. He then raced some 200 meters under heavy enemy fire to reach an adjoining platoon which had begun to falter. After rallying this unit and assisting their wounded S/Sgt Bondsteel returned to his own sector with critically needed munitions. Without pausing he moved to the forefront and destroyed 4 enemy occupied bunkers and a machine gun which had threatened his advancing platoon. Although painfully wounded by an enemy grenade, S/Sgt Bondsteel refused medical attention and continued his assault by neutralizing 2 more enemy bunkers nearby. While searching 1 of these emplacements S/Sgt Bondsteel, escaped death when an enemy soldier detonated a grenade. Shortly thereafter, he ran to the aid of a severely wounded officer and struck down an enemy soldier who was threatening the officer's life. S/Sgt. Bondsteel then continued to rally his men and led them through the entrenched enemy until his company was relieved. His exemplary leadership and great personal courage throughout the 4 hour battle ensured the success on his own and nearby units and resulted in the saving of numerous lives of his fellow soldiers. By individual acts of bravery he destroyed 10 enemy bunkers and accounted for a large toll of the enemy, including 2 key enemy commanders. His extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Thanks to Bill Klipstine < firstname.lastname@example.org > for the above photo. Sgt. Bondsteel is wearing the helmet, and is with Viet Cong prisoners who have just surrendered. Bill Klipstine writes on 13 December 1999:
"Sgt. Bondsteel was assigned to me in the S-5 slot for 2/2 in late 1969 early 1970. The Big Red One wanted to insure that Sgt. Bondsteel (the only surviving candidate from The First) would stay alive to receive his MOH. It didn't help much as we were always in the field or some vil on a medcap or dentcap..."
The above photo is an enlargement of the photo below. Sergeant First Class Bondsteel is directly behind the blue company flag. The photo was taken in November 1977 at Fort Benning Georgia.
This is a full image photograph. It is a photo of the 2 platoon, E Company, 5th Batallion, 1st Advanced Infantry Training Brigade.
Thanks to Command Sergeant Major Timothy S. Green, < email@example.com > Fort Polk, Louisiana, for the photo. He is in the photo: top row, first man on the right. On 15 January 1999, CSM Green wrote "I knew James Bondsteel. He was my platoon's instructor in infantry school. I will never forget him, his voice, his spirit. He liked me for some reason. I last saw him in August 1978. I read he died in an auto accident in Houston, in the mid-80s I believe."
The following message was received on 5 September 2000:
My name is Rachel Bondsteel; I am the youngest daughter of James Bondsteel. He died in 1987 on the Knik bridge while driving a GMC truck.
Thank you for your website and thanks to all those that wrote about my father. I was six when he died and I am trying to cultivate all the information I can about my father; he was always gone when I was little and there is not a whole lot that I remember of him.
The following message was received on 19 July 1999:
I have enjoyed looking at your site.
While looking at James Bondsteel, it indicated that it was not known if he died for sure. I am a private investigator and checked another site just for the heck of it. James Bondsteel died in 1987.
The following message was received on 8 September 1999:
I was in B, 2/2 (M) in 69-70. Met Bondsteel once in Dautieng. James Leroy Bondsteel receivced the last Medal of Honor presented by President Nixon. He was killed in a vehicle accident in Wasila, Alaska, involving a logging truck, in April, 1987. He is remembered.
The following message was received on 11 February 2000:
I'm currently assigned to the "Big Red One" conducting peace enforcement missions in Kosovo, and was just writing to inform you that the biggest US military installation in Kosovo is named Camp Bondsteel, in honor of SSG James Bondsteel.
MSG Cliff Lowe < lowec@Monteith2.areur.army.mil >
The following message was received on 25 May 2000:
Refering to SSG James L. Bondsteel. When Jim met his untimely death here in Alaska, he was working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Anchorage, Alaska. The way his death occurred, he was on his way home from work at the VA. While crossing the Knik Rover Bridge, a logging truck with a full load of cut timber, and the load became unstable and broke loose. A portion of the load crashed through Jim's vehicle and instantly killed him. I was able to work with Jim at the VA for about nine months until his death. He was a good man. Personally, I would like to see the Alaska VA Health Care System and Regional Office named in honor of Jim. Not many VA facilities can attest to the fact that a Medal of Honor winner worked at their facility. I could think of no better honor to bestow on Jim.
Kevin McGee < KMcgee@aol.com>
The following message, from John Kato, was received on 8 July 2001
I know that SFC Bondsteel was a big war hero, but I knew him as a first class person and a friend. I was waiting for orders at Fort Benning in March through May 1979. He was managing a gym and my basic training unit was near that gym on Sand Hill. He became a friend of mine despite my being a PFC and he being a SFC. He was humble without any sort of false modesty. He was and is an example to me as to what to do in life. I remember he talked about being a little league baseball coach and the joys and challenges of that charge. His decency as a person was and is a lot more of an example to me than whatever he did in the battlefield. It saddens me to learn that he died. I guess that this posting is the closest thing to my thanking him. Thank you for this web site.
The following message, from Tom Moyer, was received on 17 Januay 2001:
I work for Gov. Tony Knowles of Alaska as his special assistant for military and veterans affairs. I am assisiting his Veterans Advisory Council with a project. They are inventorying all veterans related memorials in Alaska.
James Bondsteel was a resident of Houston, Alaska and worked in Anchorage. The bridge he died on was not in Wasilla, Alaska, nor in nearby Palmer. To be more precise, the Glenn Highway crosses the Knik River in an unincorporated area of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Sgt. Bondsteel is buried in Alaska at Fort Richardson National Cemetary. There is a monument to him at the State of Alaska Veterans Memorial at Byers Lake on the Parks Highway.
Thanks to Tom Moyer for the photo.
Thanks again to Command Sergeant Major Timothy S. Green < firstname.lastname@example.org >. He provided the below newspaper article. It was published 14 April 2000 in the Alaska Post, the Fort Richardson, Alaska military newspaper.
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