James Leroy Bondsteel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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

Seal of the United States Marine Corps.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
Purple Heart (2)
Soldier's Medal
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. His Medal of Honor, awarded in November 1973, was the last presented by President Richard Nixon.

Camp Bondsteel, located in Kosovo, is named in his honor. The northbound bridge over the Knik River along the Glenn Highway north of Anchorage, Alaska, where Bondsteel died in a freak traffic collision, is also named in his honor.


James Leroy Bondsteel was born in Jackson, Michigan to Betty Jean Daisy and her fiancee, Kenneth Bondsteel. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1965 after graduating from Jonesville, Michigan. He was sent to Korea, where he contributed his time to an orphanage. Once he had finished his stint in the Corps he joined the United States Army, serving from 1965 to 1985.

From 1966 to 1970 he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

He received the Medal of Honor for his most heroic actions, which occurred on May 24, 1969, in An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam.

From 1970 to 1973 he was stationed in West Germany.

After his retirement from the Army as a Master Sergeant, he worked as a veterans' counselor.

He lived in Willow, Alaska with his wife Elaine and his daughters, Angel and Rachel.

Bondsteel died on the Knik River bridge of the Glenn Highway in 1987 when a trailer full of logs came unhooked from the transport which was pulling it and slammed into the front of his AMC Spirit.[1]

A tree was placed at Freedoms Foundation Park at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in his honor.

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 in the Denali State Park.[2]

Camp Bondsteel, the main U.S. Army base in Kosovo, is named in his honor.

Bondsteel, along with three other Medal of Honor recipients who were from the area, is honored on the Medal of Honor Memorial in Jackson County, Michigan, dedicated on November 22, 2011.[3]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]


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.[4]

See also[edit]

References and links[edit]

  1. ^ Enge, Marilee (April 11, 1987). "Knik bridge fatality reenacts earlier one". Anchorage Daily News. p. A1. A freak automobile accident killed a Houston man on the Knik River Bridge Thursday, tragically reenacting another fatal collision at the same place six months ago. James Bondsteel, of Houston, was killed when his compact car was hit by a runaway trailer full of birch logs on the narrow bridge that crosses the Knik River where it meets Knik Arm.
  2. ^ "Bondsteel, James". Neil Mishalov. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  3. ^ "Memorial to be dedicated to James Bondsteel and three other Congressional Medal of Honor recipients". Booth Newspapers. November 20, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  4. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21.