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First Name: James

Last Name: Bondsteel

Birthplace: Jackson, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Leroy

Date of Birth: 18 July 1947

Date of Death: 09 April 1987

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served: 1965 - 1985
James Leroy Bondsteel

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


James Leroy Bondsteel
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

James Leroy Bondsteel (18 July 1947- 9 April 1987) was a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army who served during the Vietnam War, where he earned the Medal of Honor.

Bondsteel was born on 18 July 1947, at Jackson, MI, to Betty Jean Daisy and her fiancé, Kenneth Bondsteel. James enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1965 after graduating from high school in Jonesville, MI. He was sent to Korea where he contributed much of his spare time to an orphanage. When his enlistment in the Marine Corps was over, he joined the U.S. Army. After a tour of duty in West Germany, he was shipped to Vietnam. In Vietnam, he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, during 1969-70. Bondsteel's heroic actions on 24 May 1969, in An Loc Province, Republic of Vietnam, earned him the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Citation: 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. His exemplary leadership and great personal courage throughout the 4-hour battle ensured the success of his own and nearby units, and resulted in the saving of numerous lives of his fellow soldiers. By individual acts of bravery he destroyed 10 enemy bunkers and accounted for a large toll of the enemy, including 2 key enemy commanders. His extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

In 1973, James Leroy Bondsteel received the last Medal of Honor presented by President Nixon.


After 20 years in the U.S. Army, Bondsteel retired as a Master Sergeant and relocated to Alaska, where he was hired as a counselor at the Veterans Administration in Anchorage. He lived in Willow, AK, with his wife Elaine, and his daughter Rachel.


A tree was placed in at Freedoms Foundation Park at Valley Forge, PA in his honor.

There is a monument to Master Sergeant Bondsteel at the State of Alaska Veterans Memorial at Byers Lake on the Parks Highway.

Camp Bondsteel, the main U.S. Army base in Kosovo, is named in his honor.

Death and Burial

On 9 April 1987, Bondsteel was killed when a trailer full of logs came unhooked from the truck that was pulling it and slammed into the front of his car, in Wasilla, AK.

Master Sergeant James Leroy Bondsteel is buried at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Fort Richardson, Anchorage Borough, AK, in H-19.

Honoree ID: 900   Created by: MHOH




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