Jimmy D Nakayama

Private First Class
C CO, 8TH ENGINEER BN, 1 CAV DIV
Army of the United States
19 November 1943 - 17 November 1965
Rigby, Idaho
Panel 03E Line 088

1 CAV DIV 8TH ENG BN
Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Jimmy D Nakayama
Photo from the Billings Gazette,
Sunday March 31, 2002

The database page for Jimmy D Nakayama

29 Jan 2003

On Nov 15 1965, during the battle for the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, Jimmy Nakayama and another man were accidentally hit with napalm during a misplaced air strike. However, PFC Nakayama was burned the worst, and when they tried to pick him up by his legs, the skin fell right off. He died two days later at an Army hospital. He was just two days shy of his 22 birthday. We honor him and others like him who risked and gave all for their country.

From a friend.
E-mail address is not available.

13 Feb 2003

I saw the film 'We Were Soldiers' the other night and providing events were portrayed accurately, the story of Jimmy Nakayama and how he died touched me quite deeply. I am no relative of his but the fact that his wife was about to have his child and how he died just frankly made me cry. My thoughts go out to his wife, if he was married and the son/daughter he never met.

martyn@runnacles.fslife.co.uk

20 Oct 2003

Hail to the brave,
God bless you.

Matthew Edgley
Manchester, United Kingdom
matt.edgley@ntlworld.com

10 Nov 2003

I have seen the movie and was very moved by the bravery of the men fighting.
God bless Jimmy and his family.

From a veteran of Desert Storm.
E-mail address is not available.

7 Jul 2004

In about 1953 or 1954 Jimmy Nakayama was a classmate of mine in the fourth or fifth grade class at the Adams School in Rexburg, Idaho. On the first day of the school year, when students introduced themselves formally to the class, he said "My name is Jimmy Nakayama and I like to eat." He was well liked, even though his Japanese ancestry set him apart. (Minorities were very rare in Idaho at that time.) He was outgoing, even charismatic. One day, however, he was despondent. He kept his head on his desk the whole day and refused to talk with anyone.

The teacher asked the class what was wrong with Jimmy. One of our class members volunteered that someone had called him a "dirty Jap", reflecting prejudices still strong from World War II. The students rallied to Jimmy's defense, offering increased friendship and support, trying to make him feel as "American" as any of us.

After the school year, Jimmy moved with his family, apparently to Rigby, about 15 miles away. We lost touch. But events would shame anyone who ever doubted Jimmy's right to be called an "American".

From a friend,
Arthur L. Porter
portera@yahoo.com

10 Jul 2004

Every time I look through these names I get another big lump in my throat. I missed Ia Drang by about four months. I met and became friends with several men from my aviation company who participated in the battle. God Bless this soldier who was doing his job and became an oxymoron called "Friendly Fire". My heart still aches as I look through these men's names, especially the ones who were "accidently killed". Their memory lives on forever.

Keith Bodine
"A" 229th AHB, 1st Cav
RVN 1966-1967
kbodine@houston.rr.com

7 Nov 2004

I just saw "We Were Soldiers" and it touched me sooo deeply to see Jimmy Nakayama get burnt like that. Just looking at him scream and cry made me so sad that I almost cried. My thoughts go out to you, Jimmy, and your wife and your kids. Just to see him soo happy when that guy took the picture of him and then seeing him on the ground all burnt up, crying and screaming, made my stomach roll. I almost cried. God bless those men who fought in Vietnam. Rest in Peace, Jimmy Nakayama. God bless you!

Love,
Jason Camara
maskater2@aol.com

18 Dec 2004

After having seen the movie We Were Soldiers Once - and Young, and having read the book, the story of Mr. Nakayama haunted me, and will for the rest of my life. May he rest in peace, and may G_d comfort his family and loved ones.

William A. Findlay III, MD
E-mail address is not available.

21 Dec 2004

I too saw "We Were Soldiers" and intend to read the book. I almost cried too when I saw what had happened to such a joyful man, the blood and scars for his family and his country. What a tremendous sacrifice. I admire his devotion to his family and his unborn child. "Tell my wife I love her. And my baby. You tell 'em!" I can recall him yelling at the photographer, more or less, while his skin was melting off. So moving. :'( God bless him and his family.

From a sympathetic guy,
Brandon
king_of_dirt9@msn.com

12 Jan 2005

I saw the movie "We Were Soldiers" and I saw what happened to Jimmy Nakayama. God bless his woman and his child!

From
Nils
posaune882000@yahoo.de

30 May 2005

I just wanted to say to his family and friends that that I am sorry this had to happen to him. I saw the movie We Were Soldiers and always wondered what happend to him after the napalm bomb hit him because they never tell you in the movie. I'm sorry. GOD BLESS HIM.

Matt Elliott
1153 West 112th Ave Unit A, Northglenn, Colorado 80234
mattrat242002@msn.com

28 Dec 2005

Jimmy,

I remember your military photo on Bachan's dresser when I used to visit her in Rigby. No one would tell me anything other than you had passed away in Viet Nam. When I saw "We Were Soldiers" with my wife and son I broke down in tears and said "That was my cousin!"

We never met, but I am so very proud to be a relative of such a brave soldier. I will NEVER forget you, or the sacrifice you made for our great country!

Greg Fernandez
P O Box 21512, Bakersfield, Ca 93390
E-mail address is not available.

03 Mar 2006

This man was a great soldier from what I read in the book "We Were Soldiers Once - and Young" and from watching the movie. His presence will definitely be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the child that he never met.

Spencer Gray
E-mail address is not available.

11 Mar 2006

When I lived at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, I found a painted rock. Someone had painted a beautiful pastel picture of the Camp on a flat, dark rock. On a visit to my grandmother's sod-roofed, log house near Rigby, Idaho, I presented her with my prize. Years later, after her death, when her farm was demolished, the rock was buried. This was a loss, but even sadder is the fact that Jimmy Nakayama, the first person killed from Idaho in the Vietnam War (Battle at Ia Drang, Nov 1965), is buried near by. His parents were surveyors of injustice and his uncle, by the same name as Jimmy, sobbed, "Why Jimmy, it should have been me?" at the funeral. Jimmy's uncle had fought for the "442" and his country."

Go For Broke.

From a friend.
E-mail address is not available.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was activated on 01 Feb 1943. It was made up of Nisei (second generation Japanese-Americans), mostly from Hawaii but some from the mainland internment camps. When President Roosevelt announced the formation of the 442nd RCT he said "Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry." He was right.

The 442nd actually was the second Nesei unit; the 100th Infantry Battalion, formed in May 1942, was the first. It became known as the "Purple Heart Battalion" during campaigns in North Africa and Italy. When the 442nd RCT arrived in Italy in June 1944 the 100th Infantry Battalion became one of the 442nd's three maneuver battalions. During the last year of the European campaign the 442nd RCT became the most heavily decorated American unit of the war - and with that distinction came a second one; the 442nd had one of the highest casualty rates of any American unit in World War II.

The 442nd's motto was "Go for Broke" - as noted above.

19 Jul 2006

God bless Jimmy and the brave soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War

Seeing Jimmy get such horrible burns literally brought me to my knees. It made me so sad seeing a young man who had just had a child be cut down like that. After reading the other Posts on this, I have come to the conclusion that Jimmy must have been a great man. His death was a loss to the men around him and to his family. May he rest in peace. God bless the brave men and women serving in the US armed services and especialy, the brave young soldiers who fought in Vietnam and the battle of Ia Drang.

From
Alex
statman@san.rr.com

27 Jul 2006

My heart goes out to all the brave men who took part in the war in Vietnam. I saw the film 'We Were Soldiers' and was shocked to see how true it was, and I say 'rest in peace' to all the men who were killed.

George Le Brun
E-mail address is not available.

15 Feb 2007

After I saw the movie We Were Soldiers Jimmy's story touched me and I just wanted to say "Rest in Peace, Jimmy, you were the best".

From a big fan,
Patrick W. McEnerney
pmac925@aol.com

25 Feb 2007

I own the movie "We Were Soldiers" and Jimmy's story really made me think about how brave those who fought in Vietnam truly were. Without men like Jimmy, we would have no America, we would have nothing. If you value your freedom, think about these brave men who have died for their country and for you. Jimmy was a true hero and one of the bravest men I have ever heard of. May God bless Jimmy and his family always, and may he rest in peace.

Callie Ross
E-mail address is not available.

24 Jul 2007

To the Nakayama family,

I did not know your son or father. I would have liked to know him personally, period. I like others have seen the movie "We Were Soldiers". I do not and unfortunately cannot assuage the anguish you feel, but I can offer my personal condolences and deepest feelings of respect for Jim. I've recently turned 22, and realize that his fate could have been my own if I had been born earlier. To this day I regret my decision to finish college. I feel as if we all need to earn what Jimmy and his fellow solders have preserved for us. Jim was an American hero and thanks in part to this feature film shall never be forgotten.

Adam J. Hoffman
1960 W. Keating Avenue Apt 299, Mesa, AZ 85202
biggin2832@aol.com

12 Dec 2007

After watching "We Were Soldiers" I was deeply moved to find out more about the life of Jimmy Nakayama. The scene where he is put on the helicopter stirred the depths of my soul. I am incredibly honored by his service to our country and his courage! Even though his death was so tragic, I'm grateful that his story was told. God bless his family!

From
Elroma David
a4transporter@att.net

17 Jan 2008

My name is Jimmy Nakayama. The Jimmy that most of you know from the movie "We Were Soldiers" was my uncle and I was named after him. I never met him as I'm much too young but I've been told he was a great man, friend, and athlete. I'm sure he would be proud of all the kind words on this memorial and on behalf of the Nakayama clan I want to say thank you.

From his nephew,
James T. Nakayama
jimmynak@hotmail.com

12 Feb 2008

When I saw "We Were Soldiers," I felt really bad for the soldiers fighting for our country, but at the same time, I thought to myself that no one should die like this. When I saw what happened to Jimmy I was shocked, I wanted to cry. My heart goes out to his family. May Jimmy and the rest of the soldiers and the Vietnamese soldiers rest in peace.

From
Keenan Wilson
kjw1987@yahoo.com

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Jimmy D. Nakayama held a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the National Guard, but he wished to serve in the Regular Army. During the transition period between going on active duty and receiving his commission, Nakayama served as an enlisted man. Although he held an Infantry Military Occupational Specialty, he was assigned to an engineer battalion within the 1st Cavalry Division. Orders granting Jimmy Nakayama's commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army were enroute when the Landing Zone X-Ray battle was fought and were received a week after he died of injuries received.

PFC Jimmy Nakayama
died in the fighting in the
Ia Drang Valley
November 1965.

Visit the
Landing Zone X-Ray site

and The Virtual Wall's
Ia Drang Memorial





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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 Jan 2003
Last updated 08/10/2009