James C Tarkenton, III

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
31 October 1941 - 19 March 1967
Fort Jackson, SC
Panel 16E Line 116

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
James C Tarkenton
Jim Tarkenton, The Citadel '64

The database page for James C Tarkenton

First Lieutenant James C. Tarkenton, III

Following Jim's graduation from The Citadel in 1964, he participated briefly on the All Army Rifle Team, went to Korea serving on the DMZ and was then assigned to Fort Polk, LA, with a weapons committee. When his two year commitment was up he decided to stay in. He became disenchanted with the efforts of some to avoid Vietnam service, so he volunteered for Vietnam. He was assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech), 22nd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division in February 1967. He was a 1LT company executive officer. His unit was operating in the vicinity of the Cambodian border. In a letter, Jim said if you survived the first 6 weeks, your chances of surviving your tour were pretty good. That was the last letter we ever received from Jim. His company commander took R&R and Jim became acting company commander. During Operation Junction City II, his column of APC's came under sniper fire from the 272nd Vietcong Regiment. Jim accompanied a foot patrol to flush out the sniper(s). It was a trap. When they passed under a tree, a command detonated Claymore mine was exploded, wiping out the entire patrol. Jim died almost instantly according to reports. That week, every officer in his company was killed. Jim was buried at the National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. This was our home at the time of Jim's death on March 19, 1967.

About two years after Jim's death, one of his pall bearers, a major with the 101st Airborne Division, participated in an ambush of an NVA sapper company of the 1st Division and found Jim's lighter on one of the bodies. The papers on this soldier indicated he had been operating in South Vietnam about two years, indicating he could very well have been the one that detonated the mine that killed Jim. I have that lighter and it is inscribed "1LT James C. Tarkenton, III, Weapons Committee, Fort Polk, LA". The irony of this is staggering ... one of Jim's pall bearers would later take the life of a NVA soldier who possibly took Jim's life, finding Jim's personal lighter on his body.

Jim's lighter

My brother Jim died before I married, so my wife and children never knew Jim. However, I've kept his memory alive over the years and my children know him as "Uncle Jim". Almost 40 years since his Citadel graduation, I still receive donations in Jim's memory from his Citadel classmates. Jim may be gone, but his memory and the knowledge of his sacrifice will always be with us.

Scott Tarkenton

Note from The Virtual Wall®

Five men of Alpha 2/22 Inf are known to have died on 19 March 1967:
  • 1LT James C Tarkenton, III, Fort Jackson SC (Fragmentation wounds)
  • 2LT Dennis John Breda, Oxnard CA (Fragmentation wounds)
  • PFC Bruce Anthony Corcoran, Oberlin KS (Gunshot wounds)
  • SP4 Barney Joe Kelly, Danbury CT (Fragmentation wounds)
  • SP4 Russell Lee Root, Plainwell MI (Fragmentation wounds)

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With all respect
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Last updated 11Jan2003