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James G. Patzwall

Personal Info


Participant Info

Class Year (or years attended)
Graduated in 1960
Military Service Branch
US Army
Years of Service
1964 -1966
Service Academy or ROTC Institution
ROTC and Officers Training School both He attended the University of Maryland and graduated in 1964. His roommates affectionately nicknamed him The Pope due to his morality and strong Catholic faith.
Highest Rank Attained
Second Lieutenant
Type of Separation
Killed in Action, February 28, 1966
Awards and Decorations
Bronze Star Medal Purple Heart medal Combat Infantry Badge Army Good Conduct Medal Marksmanship Badge National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal Vietnam Service Medal Army Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
Major Duty Assignments, Military Units/Organizations/Ships, and Locations of Service?
He was assigned to the newly formed First Cavalry Division (Airmobile) which was the first U.S. unit to engage in heavy combat in Vietnam. During Officer Candidate School, James wore the shoulder insignia of the US Army Infantry School which was inscribed with the leadership motto “Follow Me.” Through his leadership and bravery, James’ service underscored the true meaning of that insignia. He is a hero who’s faith and service reflects proudly on his family, friends, and fellow alumni of Calvert Hall.
Most Memorable Military Experience or Accomplishment
Probably the action which led to the awarding of the Bronze Star
If your service included combat or hostile action describe
James commanded an infantry platoon within the 5th Cavalry Regiment. In November 1965, James’ unit was assigned to reinforce the 7th Cavalry Regiment which undertook a mission to make contact with and engage the illusive North Vietnamese Army. What followed was the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, one of the first major battles of the U.S. Army in Vietnam.1 Outnumbered nearly five to one, James’ unit became heavily engaged in combat which lasted several days and claimed the lives of a significant number of American soldiers. On February 28, 1966, while engaged in another major operation, James, again leading his unit in a vicious and dangerous battle, was mortally wounded.2 George Forest (James’ company commander--now a retired Lt. Colonel) has spoken highly of James’ bravery and disregard for his own personal safety, while leading his men in a desperate fight, under extremely dangerous conditions. He is memorialized on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington DC. His name is inscribed on Panel 05e, Line 90. Battle of the Ia Drang Valley: See the book We Were Soldiers Once and Young, by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Journalist Joseph L. Galloway, Random House,1992; and motion picture (same title), Paramount Pictures, 2002. Engagement, First Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Landing Zone Pony, TanThanh District, Binh Dinh Province, Republic of South Vietnam, February, 1966.
Date of Death and Where They Were Laid to Rest
February 28, 1966, Second Lieutenant James G. Patzwall was laid to rest at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cemetery, German Hill Road, Baltimore Maryland
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Website, Blog or Social Media Link
Second Lieutenant James G. Patzwall - link