US MARINE CORPS

JAMES J JACQUES

Oct 9th, 1956 - May 15th, 1975

Biography


James Joseph Jacques was born on October 9, 1956 in La Junta, Colorado. His family affectionately called him Jim, with his older sister Delouise almost exclusively calling him Jimmy. James lived in this southeastern Colorado town until 1971. When James was about fifteen years old, he and his family moved to Denver, where he graduated from South High School. Soon after his eighteenth birthday he enlisted in the Marine Corps on October 31, 1974.


James left for basic training and headed west to California. He received his basic training at Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base near San Diego, California, and was there until he was deployed to Vietnam. PFC Jacques deployed in December of 1974. Although he deployed after the Paris Peace Accords, this peace agreement was only for Vietnam, and did not encompass Laos and Cambodia, where PFC Jacques was eventually deployed. The United States was still helping fight Communism in Laos and Cambodia in 1975; however servicemen sent there were considered part of the Vietnam War. His family was of course nervous for him to go away and deploy to Vietnam. His older sister Delouise Guerra said that her family was anxious about James joining the military, but they supported him because, "He wanted to go and serve his country and do his best."


Just seven months after enlisting in the Marines, James’ family got the news they had dreaded getting since he first joined. On May 15, 1975 James was killed on a rescue mission of the U.S. merchant vessel, the SS Mayaguez, after the ship was captured by the Khmer Rouge, the popular name given to the Communist party in Cambodia. Jacques was killed when his helicopter was shot down off the coast of the island Koh Tang, Cambodia. There were twenty-six men aboard and of these men half were successfully rescued at sea, with twelve servicemembers unaccounted for–including James Jacques. It would take about seventeen years before James’ family would get any news about what happened to him. In 1995 James’ dog tags were found after a Cambodian man turned in the tags to U.S. officials after wearing them for a number of years. They were subsequently returned to the Jacques family. This was not uncommon for someone in Southeast Asia to be wearing old U.S. dog tags, with dog tags being sold on the street of Vietnam. This small token gave hope to his family that he could possibly one day come home.


James’ remains were returned to American soil on December 6, 1995, but they had not been identified yet and were among the thousands of unidentified remains of other missing Vietnam veterans. DNA technology has come a long way in the twenty-first century and finally made it possible to identify the previously unidentifiable remains of American veterans–including PFC James Jacques. His remains were identified on January 23, 2012–after seventeen years of being back on American soil and thirty-seven years after his death. On August 14th, Delouise received a letter from the Marines. It was the letter she had been waiting to receive for almost four decades, that her brother would finally be coming home. She says she remembers crying and screaming with her son Bob and was overcome with joy and relief that she finally had the closure she had been waiting so long for. She said, “We never lost hope that he would come home, and that day has come.” James Joseph Jacques was finally laid to rest at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Colorado on what would have been his 56th birthday, October 9, 2012. Private First-Class James Joseph Jacques made the ultimate sacrifice for his country at only eighteen, and after forty years he finally came home to Colorado.

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Robin published a tribute .

Rest In Peace young man finally after over 30 years you are home. Thank you for your service.

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Pam Devine published a tribute .

Our nation is held together by those like you. RIP
Semper Fi...

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Kathleen Mercer published a tribute .

God Bless. Thank you for your service. Peace be with you and your family.

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