top of page

James E. Kinnard





James Edward Kinnard was born June 12, 1948 in Cherry Point, North Carolina near Camp Lejeune. He grew up in a Marine Corps family that moved frequently across the country. Eventually the family ended up in Vista, California where Jim went to high school. The middle child of four siblings, Jim was a fun-loving prankster who enjoyed making the people around him laugh. Jim loved the ocean and spent his free time surfing, fishing off the pier, and gathering with his friends around bonfires at the beach. His other passion was cars and racing them. Even before Jim got his driver’s license, he took apart the engine of an old pick-up truck and reassembled it, not once but eight times! Jim loved working with his hands and wanted to be a mechanical engineer.

Jim married his high school sweetheart, Chris, and was in his second year of college when he was drafted into the US Army in June of 1968. Like many of the unsung heroes of his generation, Jim put his life on hold to answer his country’s call to duty. Jim went through Basic Training and AIT at Ft. Ord, California. He took to Army life well, and qualified as an expert with every weapon the Army gave him to fire. On completion of AIT, Jim received orders for Vietnam. He left for Vietnam on November 19, 1968, a few days before Thanksgiving. Chris was three months pregnant when Jim shipped out. He was assigned to CO C, 1st BN, 8th CAV, 1st CAV DIV (AMBL) Vietnam.

James kinnard

In his letters home, Jim maintained his positive spirit despite some of the hardships his unit endured. They didn’t always have the equipment they needed, but did the best they could with what they had. At one point, he even asked Chris to send him a Colt .45 as he carried a grenade launcher but had no issued sidearm. He wrote to his pregnant wife as often as he could, even resorting to writing on toilet paper once when there was no stationary. Jim was very excited to be a father, and had made up his mind that they were having a son, even going so far as to tell Chris that “Girls go back to the factory”.

On February 16, 1969, Company C was sent on a Search and Clear mission in the Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam. Shortly after midnight, Jim’s unit was ambushed by enemy grenades and small arms fire. As a result of this action, Jim was seriously injured, receiving multiple wounds to his right leg and hip. The enemy fire was so intense that the Americans were pinned down, and Jim could not be medevacked out of the field for eight hours. He was taken to the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon where he endured two operations and fought to overcome his injuries.

Jim was determined to survive and return home to take care of his family and raise his son. He wrote to Chris, who was then seven months pregnant, and told her he was being shipped to Japan and that he would be home soon after that. Despite Jim’s resolve and the best efforts of the doctors and nurses, he had lost too much blood and the septic shock was too much. On March 7, 1969 Specialist James Edward Kinnard succumbed to his wounds. He was twenty years old. Jim was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Army Commendation Medal. He was remembered by his Commanding Officer as “an exemplary soldier with enthusiasm and devotion to duty which marked him as an outstanding soldier who displayed the finest example of soldierly bearing, discipline and conduct”.

Two months after Jim died; Chris gave birth to a boy, their son, Jeff. Jim’s family would like him to be remembered as a fun loving young man who put his own life on hold to serve his country. You can find Jim’s name on The Wall, along with his fallen brothers of the Vietnam War.


bottom of page