The database page for James Edward Schunemann
A friend recently sent me the URL for The Virtual Wall Web site. As I went through the Web site I looked for the names of soldiers I'd known personally who were KIA'd while I was in Vietnam.
Even though Jim Schunemann's name is on The Wall, I was surprised to find his name missing among The Virtual Walls' memorial pages. Also surprising was the fact that as I was remembering his name I realized it'd had been a while since I'd last thought about him. Living near Washington, DC I've seen his name on the Wall but that's been a few years now. Jim and I were in the 214th Combat Aviation Battalion (CAB), 1st Aviation Brigade, together during 1969-70.
I was the Bn Commo Officer located in places like Dong Tam and Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta. Jim was a young (weren't we all) WO1 Huey Pilot based at a camp further north with one of our Battalion's six aviation companies. I regret I can no longer accurately remember either the Camp's name where Jim's Company was located or his unit's numerical designation. My best guess is the camp was 'Bearcat' and his unit was either the 135th AHC or the 235th AHC. After flying combat assaults 10-15 hours a day down in the Delta, Jim, and his fellow crews, were rewarded by a 120 mile flight back north to their unit's home airfield. After settling his aircraft in for the evening, Jim's bonus reward was to go perform 'additional duty' as his Company's Avionics and Communications Officer. That's where I came to work with, and know, Jim Schunemann.
A more decent, happy, professional, great guy in a lousy situation -- than Jim Schunemann -- you'll never meet. Jim routinely handled difficult tasks; 'impossible' tasks took him a little bit longer. My duties as Bn Commo Officer included being responsible to the Battalion Commander for just about anything that had electricity running through it. To have a fighting chance at pulling that one off, we had one officer in each of the six companies who was responsible for all the avionics and ground communications gear in their unit. My challenge was simply to try to keep up with each of them. Due to TOE/manning level authorization differences between the units, several of the other companies were authorized (and had them on-hand) senior grade Warrant officers (W3-W4) Avionics/ Communications Electronics Techs. Jim and his company weren't so lucky; their Commander had to appoint someone to this duty. Jim performed these duties happily.
In the months we worked together I never recall Jim 'getting stressed' as so many of the rest of us did at one time or another. I recall many evening calls to his location trying to find out 'the status' of some piece of electronics gear in for maintenance ... when did he think it would be 'available' again? As I think back on it now I'm sure I must've 'annoyed' him on many occasions during those evening calls -- when in my pursuit of equipment 'status' -- I never really took into account what he'd been doing all day up until then. But you'd never know from him what real dangers he'd faced that day -- and every day -- in the cockpit of his assault helicopter.
That's why, on March 20, 1970, towards the end of the day, in our Battalion Operations Center, when I first learned that Jim's aircraft had been shot down, and that he had been killed, I remember 'remembering' that Jim was not just one of 'my commo guys' but that he was also a Combat Assault Helicopter Pilot. Jim Schunemann was 22 years old, a brave soldier, a friend of mine, and I miss him.
A memorial from his friend, |
15 Feb 2001
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With all respect - K. J. Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)