CAPTAIN JAMES EDDIE REED
4 December 1942 - 1 February 1968
US Army, Company A, 3rd/39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, Vietnam
Today commemorates the day that Captain James Eddie Reed, who proudly served in the United States Army as company commander of Company A, 3rd/39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division was killed in action during the Tet Offensive at Don Rach Cat, Long An Province, Vietnam. The men of Company A call him the most loved company commander in Vietnam. Today let us honor him and the brave men in his command.
During the early morning hours of February 1st, 1968, Captain Reed's commanding officer summoned him by helicopter to a meeting of his officers at batallion headquarters in Rach Kien, He received word that a freshly supplied NVA regiment was "parked across the river" from the French Fort, known as Fort Courage to the men in Company A. He was further warned that his 120 man company would probably be attacked at dusk and that the island compound where they were situated would most likely be overrun by NVA troops. "Good luck and God bless you" were the batallion commander's parting words to Captain Reed.
As the sun began to set the NVA let loose a barage of heavy artillery fire on the fort where Captain Reed's men were dug in, waiting, prepared for what lay ahead. Recognizing that his men had little chance of survival unless the heavy artillery guns could be taken out across the river, Captain Reed and his officers went to the top of the fort to establish proper coordinates to return fire. Captain Reed was working two radios, calling out coordinates when an artillery shell landed at his feet. Captain Reed was killed instantly. Dying alongside him were 1st Lt. James Sevick of Kansas, 2nd Lt. Davis Boardman, and another brave officer from Georgia. Four brave men died; one-hundred sixteen were saved. Immediately after these fine men left this world, all enemy fire from across the river ceased and never started up again. A patrol of the area revealed that the good men of Company A had destroyed the artillery weapons and found a mass grave. The NVA moved on towards Saigon where the men of Company A encountered them some weeks later during the little Tet.
Captain Reed, known to his family and friends as Eddie, was born in Kingsport, Tennessee to Kenneth Dwight Reed and Minnie Mae Kern Reed on 4 December 1942. He grew up on a tobacco and dairy farm with his brothers, Charles Benny Reed and Earl Lee Reed. He married Brenda Helen Keck and by her has two children, James Eddie Reed Jr. and Jamie Elizabeth Reed. He now has four beautiful grandchidren: RJ, Savannah, Acacia, and Ashton of whom he would be very proud. Eddie loved to hunt and fish, have fun with his buddies, play with his son, and be witih his family. He had a great sense of humor. He loved and loved well. He always honored his parents and respected his elders. He revered that he was of Native American descent and had an amazing collection of arrowheads that he found on his family's farm along the North Holston River. He had wonderful friends and a good life.
Eddie attended Bell Ridge Grammar School and graduated from Lynn View High in Kingsport and East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Eddie was a successful athlete, winning many awards as a runner and pole vaulter. He received his commission as an Army officer in June 1964 and went on active duty in January 1965. He completed Infantry Officers Basic, Ranger School, and Airborne Training in early 1965. He then served two years at Fort Ord as a platoon leader then company commander of an Advanced Infantry Training company. He went to Vietnam in July 1967 and served as company commander of a counterinsurgency unit. He was wounded in action in November 1967.
The United States Army awarded Captain James Eddie Reed the following medals: 2 Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars with Oak Leaf Clusters and V Devices, 2 Army Commendation Medals with Oak Leaf Clusters and V Devices, the Air Medal,Vietnam Service and Campaign Medals. He earned the designation of Expert Combat Infantryman, Airborne, and Ranger of which he was most proud.
Eddie Reed loved his family, his friends, the men who served with him, and his country.
We have not forgotten.
Captaiin Reed is interred in the Oak Hill Cemetery located on a hill overlooking his hometown of Kingsport. His family thinks of him every day.
Honor Captain Reed as we, his family members, do today. And may God bring all our troops safely home from Afghanistan and Iraq to their loved ones.