James John Gunderson

Army of the United States
14 July 1950 - 15 November 1969
Superior, Wisconsin
Panel 16W Line 080


Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for James John Gunderson

24 Feb 2004

Jim was a friendly and caring person. I considered him a friend as well as a comrade in arms. We had all been through some tough times that summer of '69, and Jim had been lucky enough to land a job in the "rear" helping load choppers with supplies for the field units. He decided to ride out on one of the birds to say "hi" to the guys in his old unit. After the chopper was unloaded and Jim had said his "hellos", the bird lifted off for the return to the firebase. We were on top of a pretty high peak, and the pilot dropped off the edge and headed down the slope to gain airspeed. An NVA gun crew in the valley below shot the chopper out of the sky. There were no survivors. I still have a picture of Jim and me standing in a rice paddy in the Quang Ngai valley. We had just come down from the mountains in the background of the picture, and we were taking a well deserved break. As usual, Jim was goofing around, being his funny self. I don't remember where he got it, but he is wearing a "coolie" hat and bowing to the camera. After 35 years, I can still see his smiling face.

From a friend and comrade,
Ron (Tex) Mageors
E-Mail may be forwarded via the

30 Oct 2006

I grew up with Jimmy. He adopted my father as his own. We never got to say good bye to him and I have no idea where he is buried. I miss him a lot. He was a great friend, just like a brother. He loved to go waterskiing and fishing with my father and me. I have visited the Wall many times. I stand in front of Jimmy's name and bawl my eyes out. If anybody knows his final resting place, please post it.

From a childhood friend,
Tom Brittan
Renville, Mn

28 May 2007

Jimmy was my second cousin. I'm thinking of him and remembering him today, Memorial Day, 2007. We knew each other only briefly, in the summer of 1961, when my family visited his family in Superior, Wisconsin. He would have been 11 and I was 10. We spent most of our time fishing. I have a picture of us together. I hope to go to Washington D.C. someday to see the Wall.

From a second cousin.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

There's some educated guessing going on with respect to this loss, but The Virtual Wall believes they are good guesses.

The casualty database shows that five men died in Quang Ngai Province in a helo-related incident on 15 November.

The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Association database shows the 174th Assault Helicopter Company lost one aircraft in Quang Ngai Province on 15 Nov 1969 - UH-1H tail number 68-15661. The VHPA does not associate a crew with this loss, but other records associate four of the five dead with the 174th AHC:

  • WO Adam Wilson, San Diego, CA, pilot;
  • WO Ricardo W. Regalado, Everett, WA, copilot;
  • SP4 Ronald L. Ducommun, San Francisco, CA, gunner; and
  • SP4 Forest C. Hodgkin, Lewiston, ME, crew chief.
VHPA records for Warrant Officers Wilson and Regalado note they were on a resupply mission when they were shot down.

The fifth helo-associated death in Quang Ngai Province was then-SP4 James J. Gunderson, who had "decided to ride out on one of the birds" to see his friends. According to Mr. Mageors above, the Huey he was on was shot down with no survivors.

The evidence is circumstantial, but the conclusion seems inevitable:

The 174th AHC was tasked with a resupply mission; UH-1H tail number 68-15661 and a four man crew were assigned to the mission. SP4 Gunderson realized the helo was supporting his unit and went along with the supplies. After take-off from the LZ the Huey was shot down, resulting in the deaths of all five men aboard.
James J. Gunderson received a posthumous promotion to Sergeant. The Virtual Wall was not able to identify his place of burial.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend and comrade,
Ron (Tex) Mageors
E-Mail may be forwarded via the

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 25 Feb 2004
Last updated 12/04/2007