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James L. Bondsteel
File:James Leroy Bondsteel.jpg
Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1947-07-18)July 18, 1947
Died April 9, 1987(1987-04-09) (aged 39)
Place of birth Jackson, Michigan
Place of death along the Glenn Highway between Anchorage and Palmer, Alaska
Place of burial Fort Richardson National Cemetery, Anchorage, Alaska
Allegiance United States United States of America

USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps

USArmy flag.jpg United States Army
Years of service 1965 - 1985
Rank Master Sergeant
Unit 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
Battles/wars Vietnam
Awards Medal of Honor
Bronze Star (2)
Purple Heart (2)
Other work counselor

James Leroy Bondsteel (July 18, 1947 – April 9, 1987) was a United States Army soldier who served during the Vietnam War, where he earned the Medal of Honor. Camp Bondsteel, located in Kosovo, is named in his honor. His Medal of Honor, awarded in November 1973, was the last presented by President Richard Nixon.


James L. Bondsteel was born in Jackson, Michigan to Betty Jean Daisy and her fiancée, Kenneth Bondsteel. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1965 after graduating from Jonesville, Michigan. He was sent to Korea, where he is most notably known to have contributed his time to an orphanage. Once he had finished his stint in the Corps he joined the Army and was sent to West Germany; he was later sent to Vietnam. He served in Vietnam during 1969 and 1970, assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. He received the Medal of Honor for actions taking place on May 24, 1969, in An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam. After his retirement from the Army, he again served his brothers in arms as a vet counselor. He lived in Willow, Alaska with his wife Elaine and his daughters, Angel & Rachel. He died on the Knik Bridge when a trailer full of logs came unhooked from the truck that was pulling it and slammed into the front of his AMC Spirit in 1987. A tree was placed at Freedoms Foundation Park at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in his honor. SSG Bondsteel is buried in Alaska at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. There is a monument to him at the Alaska Veterans Memorial at Byers Lake on the Parks Highway.[1] Camp Bondsteel, the main U.S. Army base in Kosovo, is named in his honor. S/Sgt Bondsteel, along with three other Medal of Honor recipients that were from the area, is honored on the Jackson County, MI Medal of Honor Memorial The memorial was dedicated on November 22, 2011.

Medal of Honor citation


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 spearheaded 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 one of these emplacements S/Sgt. Bondsteel narrowly escaped death when an enemy soldier detonated a grenade at close range. 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 of 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.[1]

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References and links

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