For those that follow this website, you know that once in a while I freelance and create bios for people who I have a personal connection to, or the story is too compelling and important to pass on. The theme of the work on this website is to honor veterans who died during wartime. This is one of those stories. – for Michele Clark
HOSPITALMAN 3RD CLASS JAMES STEVEN CAZARES, U.S. NAVY
August 3, 1947 (Oklahoma City, OK) – September 8, 1967; 20 years old
Lived at 4020 SW 23rd Street Oklahoma City, OK
Enlisted on January 5, 1966
Serial number: 119 18 53
Navy Enlisted Classification: N-8404-Medical Field Service Technician / Fleet Marine Force Combat Corpsman
Unit: 1st Marine Division, 5th Marines, 3rd Battalion, Company I
Born to James R. Cazares (1910-1989) and Mary Estrada Cazares (1918-2004). One sister Simona Cazares Giaccardo (1938-2005), and three brothers; Paul E. (1940-), Jessie A. (1943-) and George G. (1952-).
1964 Mount St. Mary’s High School Junior year picture
Died as a result of a gunshot wound from enemy rifle fire while on Operation SWIFT (history of the operation is below). Casualty location: Que Son Valley, Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam
Honored on The Wall, Panel 26 E, Line 33
Graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s High School in 1965. Worked at Tinker Air Force Base prior to entering the Navy.
Received the Purple Heart Medal. Additional medals and ribbons are the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars for participation in or support of operations in the seventeen designated campaigns of the Vietnam War, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Testimony found on TogetetherWeServed.com
James Cazares was known affectionately during his high school days as “Chic.” He was a year ahead of me in high school at Mt. St. Mary’s in Oklahoma City, OK. He graduated in 1965. He was my first date. He was the only person who had the nerve to ask my father to take me to a sock hop. He was present when I got my first traffic ticket. We were racing each other. He got a ticket too. I was late for curfew. He was honorable always and I miss his smile and gentle laugh. His memory will never fade. ~Melanie Williams
Testimony found on TogetherWeServed.com
HN (HospitalMan) James Cazares served as an Fleet Marine Force Corpsman with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, India Company. He was Killed In Action on Operation SWIFT. “Doc” Cazares’ name stands proudly on the India 3/5 Wall of Honor. Semper fi, Doc. We will never forget.
Details of Operation SWIFT
Sweep operations were initiated on September 4, 1967 to shield the local populace from intimidation during upcoming elections. Operation Swift, intended to be the fourth and the last of the 1967 operations in the Que Son Valley, began unofficially on the morning of September 4 when Delta Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines (1/5) was attacked before dawn by a superior NVA force while setup in a night-time defensive perimeter next to the village of Dong Son. The local Battalion Commander was Lt Colonel Peter Hilgartner who sent 1/5’s Bravo Company to Deltas relief, which was all he had at the time. With Bravo and Delta companies heavily engaged, Mike and Kilo companies from the adjacent 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5) were sent to relieve them. Ambushed and aggressively attacked, these two companies were also pinned down in separate enclaves by the early afternoon. During the fighting Corporal Larry Benjamin Nunez earned the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Squad Leader. Sergeant Lawrence Peters earned a posthumous Medal of Honor for leading his men in repulsing repeated attempts to overrun his position. Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Vincent Capodanno was also awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his efforts in pulling wounded men to safety in face of overwhelming enemy fire. Sergeant Thomas C. Panian was also awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism for organizing the defense of India Company, 3/5 Marines: and holding off subsequent attacks over 8 hours of combat. Marine artillery fire and Marine jet fighter-bombers prevented the Marine infantry companies from being overrun. A Marine A-6 silenced an anti-aircraft gun emplacement, allowing more air support against NVA positions, and a fresh Marine company launched a dawn counterattack September 5 forcing the NVA to break contact. With all engaged companies now relieved Colonel Stanley Davis, commanding the 5th Marines, ordered 1/5 and 3/5 to pursue the withdrawing NVA, this officially began Operation Swift. In the early afternoon of September 6 two battalions of the NLF 1st Regiment attacked Bravo Company, the lead company of the 1st Battalion. Bravo 1/5 was isolated and nearly overrun but held when Marine artillery rained tear gas around their position. Sergeant Rodney M. Davis, Platoon Guide of 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, purposely absorbed the force of an NVA grenade to protect the lives of other Marines during that fight. Sergeant Davis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for this action. The battles had killed 127 Americans and an estimated 600 North Vietnamese.
Honored on NavyMemorial.org: http://navylog.navymemorial.org/cazares-james
Honored on the National Gold Star Family Registry: https://www.goldstarfamilyregistry.com/heroes/JAMES-CAZARES-55380
James Steven Cazares is buried at Sunny Lane Cemetery, 4000 SE 29th Street, Del City, Oklahoma; Section 10. Photo from FindAGrave.com.