26 Jan 2001
Carroll County Times newspaper
Army SFC James H. Zumbrun of Manchester, Maryland, was killed on January 10, 1970, when his observation plane was shot down in Vietnam.
"He was over there by choice," said his father Champ Zumbrun of his son, a former Carroll County soccer star. "He didn't have to be there. he said we have to do it. This is the place we have to be".
James was a Silver Star recipient and member of the elite Green Berets and was on his third voluntary tour of duty in Vietnam at the time of his death at the age of 26.
He had joined the Special Forces shortly after graduation from North Carroll High School in 1961. He was decorated more than a dozen times, receiving in addition to the Silver Star and Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters with "V" device, the Purple Heart with two oak clusters, the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation medal with oak leaf cluster, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm, the Master Parachutist medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Ranger School badge and the Good Conduct Medal. His Silver Star citation read that the sergeant had
"distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions March 13, 1968, as Special Forces adviser to a Vietnamese reconnaissance team. When moving through dense jungle, his patrol came in contact with an enemy platoon. He quickly placed fire on the enemy force. Outnumbered and drawing fire from three sides, he directed the withdrawal of the patrol, remaining behind to cover his comrades. Joining the other patrol members, he directed them to an extraction landing zone. With the enemy within 20 meters, he braved fire to protect the recovery helicopter and to direct gunships and airstrikes on enemy positions. As the last three patrol members were being hoisted into the recovery aircraft, the landing zone began receiving intense enemy fire.
Zumbrun, realizing the aircraft and remaining patrol members were in grave danger, dropped 30 feet to the ground, enabling the aircraft to withdraw undamaged. A second recovery helicopter arrived and he was successfully extracted."
Memorial Day edition 1989.
Eighteen Carroll County, Maryland, military personnel died in the Vietnam conflict.