James Gilbert Riley

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
20 June 1947 - 11 December 1967
Mauston, Wisconsin
Panel 31E Line 082


Bronze Star (Merit), National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for James Gilbert Riley

11 Jan 2008

James Gilbert Riley was born on June 20, 1947, in Mauston, Wisconsin. His family and friends knew him as Gilbert or Gilley. Gilbert was the seventh child born to Edward Riley and Mary Elizabeth Kelley Riley. Two of the children born prior to Gilbert died in infancy so Gilbert seemed more like the fifth child in our family. Five more children were born after Gilbert; one of these children died in infancy. Gilbert was the oldest of the 'little boys' in his family.

A video, available in the Mauston Public Library, was made to share the photographs that Gilbert took in Vietnam. A few earlier photographs are included, too. The stories of Gilbert's growing-up years aren't well documented in photographs, however, the stories are well known to his siblings and friends. We like to share our memories in order to keep Gilbert alive in our lives and to give his life meaning to others in our family who didn't know him - our in-laws, and our nieces and nephews and their children.

Gilbert went to St. Pat's Grade School and Madonna High School. Following school, Gilbert began work in Racine, Wisconsin, at J. I. Case. Not too long after beginning work in Racine - in April of 1966 - Gilbert received a notice from the Selective Service to report for an Armed Forces examination. In the next month, Gilbert received a notice that he had been found acceptable for selective service duty. Gilbert checked out his options and ended up beginning active duty in the Army in August 1966.

Gilbert stayed in the US, being stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana and Fort Hood, Texas until June of 1967 when he began his duty in Vietnam. In October 1967, Gilbert was promoted to the rank of Specialist Fourth Class. He served in the 4th Infantry Division, in Military Region 2 - Darlac Province.

All of the photographs taken by Gilbert and a few letters written by Gilbert to his brothers, Leo and Peter, and to his sister, Mary, are in the video.

James Gilbert was killed on December 11, 1967.

After Gilbert's death Gilbert's Commanding Officer wrote the following: "... your son was well respected by all who knew him." Further evidence of respect and admiration for Gilbert was evident when his parents were presented the Bronze Star Medal, posthumously, for meritorious service. Following are some statements from this award:

"He was greatly responsible for the high state of material readiness of Company C, 1st Battalion .... and contributed significantly to its success in tactical operations. He continually volunteered for hazardous and arduous forward recovery missions and demonstrated great perseverance and tenacity while performing his duties in a highly professional manner. His spirit of cooperation and steadfast integrity earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow solders."

There are a few pictures of the Wall in the video, including one that has a reflection of Gilbert's brother, Peter, in the background.

In December 2007, it was forty years ago that Gilbert died in Vietnam. We still talk about him frequently; we still miss him. A few nephews have been given the name James, as a middle name. Most recently his great-nephew was named Kevin Gilbert.

The video ends with Gilbert's signature on a letter that he had sent to his family: "Love, Gilley"

From his sister,
Mary Tremain

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his sister,
Mary Tremain

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 11 Jan 2008
Last updated 01/25/2008