The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SP4 James Paul Perrone Jr., who died in the service of his country on March 12th, 1967 in Kontum Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death James was 19 years of age. He was from The Bronx, New York. James is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 16E, Line 71.
The decorations earned by SP4 James Paul Perrone Jr. include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
"Head and Shoulders Above"
Specialist Fourth Class (SP-4) James P. Perrone was a man and a soldier that truly stood out from his peers. Though he actually was the tallest man in A Company, 2nd Battalion 35th Infantry, Jim stood "head and shoulders above" the rest of us not because of his great physical height. He was "head and shoulders and above" because of the immense strength and depth of his character.
Jim grew up in the Bronx and, as is typical with so many New Yorkers, was quite animated and vocal. He was also fiercely protective when it came to those members of his "family", A Company and especially the 2nd Platoon. Every man in the company knew him and respected him, both as a soldier and as an individual. Even those few who may not have liked him, gave him respect. In truth there were very few that disliked Jim and those, only because he constantly challenged them by his actions to be better soldiers and individuals.
Feeling a deep sense of patriotic duty, Jim enlisted in the Army in 1966, after his family moved from the city to Ringwood, New Jersey. His long time Bronx buddy, Carl Schwarz, was drafted shortly thereafter and both were sent to serve their country in Southeast Asia. Carl was assigned to the Ninth Infantry Division in the South while Jim went on to the Central Highlands settling into the Second Platoon of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, 25th Inf. Division in Pleiku. Before departing the Bronx, the friends made plans to get together during R and R later in their tours. Unfortunately Jim was not able to make that R and R rendezvous with Carl.
While life in the Second Platoon was far from idyllic during those last days of 1966 and early months of 1967, there was a wonderfully pervasive sense of personal regard for one another. Though everyone seemed to contribute to that feeling in one way or another, it was Jims contribution that was huge. Not only did he always carry considerably more than his share of the combat equipment load, he often volunteered to walk "point". Though his tall, lanky frame may have been a bit of a liability for his own personal safety, we all felt very comfortable while Jim was leading us through those thick jungles in the mountains of the Central Highlands. Jim truly approached his duty as a soldier with an extraordinary level of professionalism, particularly for a man of his age and experience. We always knew that if Jim said it was safe, it was. If he said there are NVA close, they were there. He had excellent powers of observation and paid attention to the smallest details.
Though Jim carried out his soldiering duties as a true professional, he also had a fantastic sense of humor. Just listening to Jim engaged in an ordinary conversation with a buddy often brought smiles to the faces of those other listeners nearby. He had an uncanny ability, a gift really, to see and portray humor in nearly everything. He was a true delight to be around. Endowed with so many positive character traits, it is hard to pick the "one extra special" part of Jim's character. He often talked about home, his family and friends. He was also continually helping those around him in countless little ways. His generosity was truly extraordinary. While others may have hoarded bits of "care packages" from home, Jim always shared his "pack" with the platoon. To this day I can still taste the Italian Salami that his Mom would send him from time to time. To me though, it was his expression of deep love and heartfelt concern for the well being of his family, both at home and his "adopted family", A Company. He was some kind of man and one that I will never, ever, forget.
I had the honor of being Jim's Platoon Leader from December 1966 through March 12th, 1967. Early on that March day A Company, operating alone, encountered what the records say was a regimental sized unit of North Vietnamese Regulars. They were well dug in and prepared. Within a short period of time two A Company platoons became heavily engaged. It was not long before one platoon ran dangerously low on ammunition and sent out two men to affect a re-supply. I remember, as if it were yesterday, that when it was time to send the ammunition back to that heavily engaged platoon it was Jim that stepped up to me and said selflessly, "I will go". Sadly the return trip proved deadly and all those brave men were either killed or wounded prior to reaching their objective. They were courageous men, selflessly giving of themselves in an attempt to help others. They were, and are, real heroes.
Specialist Fourth Class James P. Perrone was a true patriot, a fine soldier and an outstanding human being. I know that all those he was around, so many lives, were enriched in such a wonderful way. I will be forever honored to have served with this fine young man. He was, and will forever be, "Head and Shoulders Above".
2nd Lt., Second Platoon Leader
A Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division
December 1966 to May 1967
James is buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, Ardsley, NY
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96262
GENERAL ORDERS 9 May 1967
AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL FOR HEROISM
1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously:
PERRONE, JAMES P JR RA12762250 SPECIALIST FOUR E-4 United States Army
Co A, 2d Bn, 35th Inf, 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div, APO 96355
Awarded: Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device
Date action: 12 March 1967
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Specialist Four Perrone distinguished himself by heroic action on 12 March 1967, while serving as a rifleman in the Second Platoon of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, during a search and destroy mission in Kontum Province near the Cambodian border. Early in the day, moving through dense undergrowth, the unit was subjected to a massive barrage of small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from a multi-battalion size enemy force. Shortly after noon, the Third Platoon, which had suffered heavy casualties, asked for help to evacuate them. The call went out to the Second Platoon for volunteers. Aware of the imminent danger, Specialist Four Perrone unhesitatingly offered to help. He quickly moved out, determined to cross the 300 meters of enemy held territory separating them from the Third Platoon. Nearing his objective, his squad was suddenly pinned down by a devastating volume of automatic weapons and mortar fire. It became apparent that any movement would draw the enemy's attention. Aware of the danger and disregarding his personal safety, Specialist Four Perrone began to maneuver in an effort to find a position from which to engage the enemy. As he dodged from position to position, an enemy sniper spotted his movement and directed heavy fire at him. Specialist Four Perrone courageously braving the fire moved about laying down effective fire in the direction of the enemy, but was fatally wounded in his heroic action. His movement had drawn enough attention from the enemy to enable the other men to advance on their positions and eliminate the enemy completely. Specialist Four Perrones exceptional display of courage, determination and devotion to duty is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
Authority: By direction of the President and the provisions of Executive Order 11046, 24 August
FOR THE COMMANDER:
JUDSON F. MILLER
Chief of Staff
HERBERT A. ROBINSON
Adjutant General Co 864