b. 18/07/1947 Jackson, Michigan. d. 09/04/1987 Anchorage, Alaska.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 24/05/1969 An Loc Province, Vietnam.
James Leroy Bondsteel was born in Jackson, Michigan to Betty Jean Daisy and her fiancee, Kenneth Bondsteel. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1965 after graduating from Jonesville, Michigan. He was sent to Korea, where he contributed his time to an orphanage. Once he had finished his stint in the Corps he joined the United States Army, serving from 1965 to 1985. From 1966 to 1970 he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. He received the Medal of Honor for his most heroic actions, which occurred on May 24, 1969, in An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam.
In 1970 to 1973 he was stationed in West Germany. After his retirement from the Army as a Master Sergeant, he became a veterans counselor. He lived in Willow, Alaska with his wife Elaine and his daughters, Angel & Rachel. Bondsteel died on the Knik River Bridge of the Glenn Highway in 1987 when a trailer full of logs came unhooked from the transport which was pulling it and slammed into the front of his AMC Spirit. The bridge where he died is named in his honour.
Camp Bondsteel, the main U.S. Army base in Kosovo, is named in his honour. Bondsteel, along with three other Medal of Honor recipients who were from the area, is honored on the Medal of Honor Memorial in Jackson County, Michigan, dedicated on November 22, 2011.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bondsteel distinguished himself while serving as a platoon sergeant with Company A, near the village of Lang Sau. Company A was directed to assist a friendly unit which was endangered by intense fire from a North Vietnamese Battalion located in a heavily fortified base camp. S/Sgt. Bondsteel quickly organized the men of his platoon into effective combat teams and spearheaded the attack by destroying 4 enemy occupied bunkers. He then raced some 200 meters under heavy enemy fire to reach an adjoining platoon which had begun to falter. After rallying this unit and assisting their wounded, S/Sgt. Bondsteel returned to his own sector with critically needed munitions. Without pausing he moved to the forefront and destroyed 4 enemy occupied bunkers and a machine gun which had threatened his advancing platoon. Although painfully wounded by an enemy grenade, S/Sgt. Bondsteel refused medical attention and continued his assault by neutralizing 2 more enemy bunkers nearby. While searching one of these emplacements S/Sgt. Bondsteel narrowly escaped death when an enemy soldier detonated a grenade at close range. Shortly thereafter, he ran to the aid of a severely wounded officer and struck down an enemy soldier who was threatening the officer’s life. S/Sgt. Bondsteel then continued to rally his men and led them through the entrenched enemy until his company was relieved.
BURIAL LOCATION: FORT RICHARDSON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA.
SECTION H GRAVE 19
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.