James Neil Tycz

United States Marine Corps
10 April 1945 - 10 May 1967
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Panel 19E Line 088

Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for James Neil Tycz

16 Mar 2005

You're home now, James.
Rest in Peace in Arlington.

Judith Singer

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the



United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving with the First Platoon, Company A, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, near Khe Sanh in the Republic of Vietnam on 9 May 1967. Sergeant Tycz was the patrol leader of a seven-man reconnaissance patrol deep in enemy-controlled territory. Shortly after midnight a North Vietnamese Army unit, estimated to be about 30-50 men, was heard moving toward the patrol's position. Sergeant Tycz cautioned his men to remain silent so as not to be detected; however, several of the enemy troops walked into the patrol's position and started to unsling their weapons after sighting the patrol. One of the Marines quickly took two of the enemy under fire, killing them instantly. Alerted to their location, the enemy immediately began delivering a heavy volume of small-arms fire into the patrol's perimeter. One patrol member was killed instantly and another was wounded. Sergeant Tycz quickly deployed the remainder of his patrol and fearlessly moved among his men directing their fire and shouting words of encouragement despite the heavy volume of enemy fire being poured into his perimeter. Within a few minutes the assistant patrol leader was seriously wounded, as was the corpsman attached to the patrol and the second radio operator. Sergeant Tycz moved to a radio and began calling in artillery fire on the enemy positions. When an armed enemy hand grenade landed near one of the seriously wounded Marines, Sergeant Tycz courageously and with complete disregard for his own personal safety moved forward, picked up the grenade and attempted to throw it back at the enemy. The grenade exploded after traveling only a short distance, and he fell, critically wounded. Throughout the encounter, Sergeant Tycz set an example of calmness and coolness under fire that was an inspiration to the remainder of his patrol. By his unselfish act of courage, he risked his life to save his comrades from injury and possible loss of life and thereby upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

26 Mar 2005

When I was 18, I moved into my first apartment, near the Milwaukee V.A. hospital. A vet who lived in my building sold M.I.A. bracelets and I bought one, picking a random bracelet out of a bag. That bracelet bore the name of James Tycz. I wore that bracelet for 15 years until it broke in half. I ordered a new one, continuing to wear Sgt. Tycz's name.

This past week, the Milwaukee paper had an article detailing the finding of Sgt. Tycz's remains. As I read the article, my six year old asked why I had a tear rolling down my cheek. After explaining it to him, he gave me a big hug and told me everything would be O.K.

To those of you who have served, please know that as a member of "Generation X", I have not forgotten your sacrifice ... and neither will my children. God bless.

From a bracelet wearer,
Dave Desmet

6 Apr 2005

We call him Neil. This is how the three Tycz boys were called, by our middle names. After 38 years Neil is coming home, home to the United States, the country he loved, fought for, and died for. On May 10th 2005 he will find his resting place among his fellow countrymen in a place of honor, Arlington National Cemetery. This, on the 38th anniversary of his death.

Neil may have left this world 38 years ago, but he surely has not left our hearts and our thoughts. Friends and family, some who barely remember him and others who weren't even born when he was killed will be in Arlington to welcome him home. While only four of eight siblings are alive to pay homage on his special day, the number planning to attend has swollen to 48! Could we be more proud?

Sergeant James Neil Tycz will be looking down and smiling with his impish grin at the multitude gathered to pay their respects for a job well done.

Neil, we all love you and miss you.

From his brother,
Phillip Dale Tycz
E-mail address is not available.

10 Apr 2005

Today, April 10th, is the anniversary of the birth of Sergeant James Neil Tycz. We who know him, in our own ways, are richer for his having been here.

As I wore his bracelet, shared his story, and sought to know him as a person, I found that words such as inspiration, integrity, enthusiasm, courage, and joi de vivre were among those to describe him.

I feel deep gratitude and respect for this man of great strength and honor.

Please visit my personal memorial page.

Sharon Lynn Pelon

18 Apr 2005

It wasn't the length of time I knew Neil, it was the quality of the time I was able to spend with him. I thought of him as my "big brother". I was the oldest in our family so when Neil was with us all those weekends in Long Beach, he treated me like his little teenage sister. All the weekends Neil spent at our house, and all of the wonderful memories of those times, have never been forgotten (sometimes a little "foggy", but not forgotten). My brother Jim reminded me of the times that Uncle Neil would pick us up from swimming at the YMCA and would take us by McDonald's for french fries and malts - something that a lot of Uncles would do, but Neil would do it while my mom was at home making dinner. I can remember sitting at the dinner table and all of us kids would be grinning at Neil and he would look away from us, afraid to look back at us because he didn't want my mom to find out we had just come from McDonald's before we sat down for dinner. I am sure this sounds like the Neil you grew up with as well.

From his niece,
Long Beach, Ca
E-mail address is not available.

26 Apr 2005

Neil Tycz was my uncle and when I was a teenager, like most, I just assumed he and the rest of my big extended family would always be there, as they always were. All my maternal aunts and uncles and cousins and great aunts and uncles and second cousins and grandma and grampa Ziggy sharing family picnics, filled with swimming, card games and good food, stretching out over long and lazy summer days in Sheridan Park, year after year. Of course Uncle Neil was there, young and cute and as I remember him, always smiling.

When I was a teenager, one evening I called my Uncle Dale, which is what we used to call Neil's brother Phil. I was calling to find out what time I was supposed to babysit. When an unfamilar woman's voice answered and identified herself as "the babysitter", I was confused. Wasn't I the babysitter? When she went on to say that my uncle was at his parents, that his brother had died in Vietnam, I remember feeling stunned and scared. His brother was my Uncle Neil, that meant Uncle Neil was dead, how could young, cute, sweet Neil be dead? How could I know he was dead before my mother did? She was at the neighbors, I couldn't tell her this awful, awful news ... it was too big ... too sad. Suddenly in my hurt, I wasn't such a teenager anymore, I was a lost kid who didn't know what to do. Thankfully within minutes my father returned home from work and I let him know what I didn't want my mom to know.

Just moments later, my mother came in from the neighbors and my father quietly asked her to take a walk with him to the lake. Perplexed, she said she couldn't, she needed to make supper, could they go later? "No," he said as gently as I had ever heard him speak, "You need to take a walk with me now". As I watched my mom leave the house with my dad's arm around her, it broke my heart to know that we knew what she didn't and worse, what it would soon mean to her to know what we did. As young as I was, I understood that the mom that left would not be the mom that returned. Not after losing her brother.

Much later, they came back, my dad pale and solemn, my mom grief-stricken. The rest of the evening is a fog of tears, ringing phones and cups of coffee from my mother as she offered and accepted the comfort of a large family shocked by the loss of such a kind spirit as Neil's.

Though there was a funeral and honorary services, I think each of us whose lives had been touched by Neil have felt, over the years, haunted by his absence. Not having his body found always felt unfinished. To have him 'somewhere out there' felt too lonely ... for him ... for us.....

I found myself making rubbings from the Wall in Washington to bring home to my mom and my aunts, hoping to give them a momento, something tangible to tuck away, to hold onto. A year or so ago, I left a letter for Neil at the Traveling Wall, realizing as the tears fell that his death had become even more poignant to me. Certainly as a young girl I recognized the goodness of my Uncle yet as the years passed I understood more the full measure of the man he was. So I cried for all he missed as well as for all we had missed of him.

It makes me happy now to think that he, along with his parents, his sisters, aunts, uncles, neices, nephews - those who are no longer with us - will be alongside us in spirit as we honor Neil with his burial at Arlington. It may not be summer and there may not be swimming or card games but we will be family, gathered together once more and oh, so ready to welcome him home.

"Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm.

"It exists to give you comfort,
It is there to keep you warm.
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home."
John Denver

From a niece,
E-mail address is not available.

29 Apr 2005

When I left Milwaukee in 1953 to go live with my sister Rita, Neil was only 8 years old. I did not see him again until he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. What a wonderful surprise that first time he appeared at our door! I was married and had 5 children by that time. He fit right into our family, spending the time with my children and being a wonderful Uncle. I finally was able to get to know my "little brother" and he became the "big brother" to my children. I was so proud of him and happy to be able to share his days off with him. He became a part of our family, if only for the weekends. I thank God that we had those days with him, few as they may have been. I feel blessed to have had that time and I will carry those wonderful memories with me always.

From his sister,
Patricia Tycz Kriesher

2 May 2005

Neil, I met some of your wonderful family this weekend. It was at the 30th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War commemoration held in Milwaukee. When I escorted your brother to the podium to speak... it was heart breaking... for everyone... everyone. Your family loves you very much and is still pained by your absence. They are finding some peace with the return of your remains... but it is a far cry from closure. You are the one at peace, Neil, and you have been for along time. It is those left behind who suffer the most and longest. On May 10th when your family buries you at Arlington, the same day you were declared KIA many, many years ago, grant them the strength they need to continue on. God Bless you and your family, Neil -- Judith

From a "behind the scenes" friend,
Judith Singer

05 May 2005

He was my Uncle. He was my Godfather. But what does a 6 year old remember from 38 years ago? Good things. Lots of love, letters written with BIG printing and drawings so I could "read" it, sending care packages with my own letters and drawings and lots of goodies. I remember Uncle Neil coming to our house in his uniform; it was kind of scary, until that first hug. I remember showing him how I could dance-tap and ballet from class. He watched and clapped when I was done. Bad things. My house with everyone crying - especially Mom. The memorial service with lots of people in that same scary uniform. Granny and Grandpa all dressed up, looking sad. Holding my Mom's hand really tight - don't let go. The airplanes flying by. The sound of "Taps" being played. Even today Taps brings me back to that time long ago and all these memories ... I will never forget.

Your Niece,
Shari Domina
E-mail address is not available.

11 May 2005


As long as we live, your Spirit will live within us. May your PEACE Heal us all! AMEN, my Brother.

From a Vietnam veteran,
Joe Campbell
2228 N. 115th St, Wauwatosa, Wi 53226

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 9 May 1967 seven members of "A" Company, 3rd Recon, were assigned a reconnaissance patrol ("Recon Team Breaker") with the mission of gathering intelligence information on suspected enemy infiltration routes near Khe Sanh. Although platoon commander 2ndLt Heinz Ahlmeyer was among the seven, RT Breaker actually was led by Sergeant James N. Tycz. The team consisted of
  • 2ndLt Heinz Ahlmeyer, platoon commander, Alpha 3rd Recon
  • Sgt James N. Tycz, platoon sergeant and team leader
  • LCpl Samuel A. Sharp, assistant team leader
  • HM3 Malcolm T. Miller, Corpsman
  • LCpl Clarence R. Carlson
  • Pfc Carl Friery
  • Pfc Steven Lopez
RT Breaker was air-lifted onto a ridgeline just south of the DMZ and overlooking a known infiltration route from Laos. As the team began to move they encountered a number of well-constructed but unmanned enemy bunkers, finds reported by radio to the mission monitor at Khe Sanh. The patrol was directed to leave the area and establish a night defensive position on high ground, which they did.

Shortly after midnight an NVA force of 30 to 50 men literally tripped over the Marines, forcing an engagement. Within a short time, four Marines were dead, one was wounded and unconscious, and two were wounded but functional. Pfc Lopez, an 18-year-old on his third recon patrol, took over the task of radio operator and artillery observer, calling in supporting fires. Several attempts were made during the night to extract the patrol, but enemy gunfire was so heavy that helicopters could not land (one, CH-46A BuNo 151923, made it to a 20-foot hover, where it was riddled with 23 hits, killing the pilot and wounding all other crewmen). At sunrise, fixed wing air was brought in and additional attempts were made to get a helicopter into the defensive position. Finally, toward noon, a UH-1 from VMO-3 was able to sneak in while other rotary and fixed wing aircraft suppressed the enemy. While the UH-1 was able to pick up the three surviving team members, it was not possible to retrieve the bodies of those who had died:

In addition to Sergeant Tycz' Navy Cross, three men were awarded the Silver Star:
  • Captain Paul T. Looney, HMM-164, pilot, CH-46A BuNo 151923, posthumous
  • Major Charles A. Reynolds, VMO-3 pilot who made the pick-up
  • LCpl Clarence A. Carlson, RT Breaker

The commanding officer of Alpha 3rd Recon, Captain Albert B. Crosby, was interviewed on 13 May 1967; a tape of the interview is available on the Internet. The Joint Task Force surveyed the location, finding fragments of American equipment, and on 27 May 2003 the remains of the four missing Marines were repatriated, with public notice of their identification published on 24 Feb 2005.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
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