James Edward Bryan
Cadet Company: A1
Date of Birth: October 19, 1940
Date of Death: September 14, 1977
Died in Kurkland AFB, NM
Interred: West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY - View or Post a Eulogy
Location: Sect XVIII, Row C, Grave 022
Major James "JAMIE" EDWARD BRYAN was born on 19 October 1940 in Washington, DC, the son of Lieutenant General Blackshear M. Bryan and Catherine Bryan. As an Army brat, who traveled all over the world, Jamie developed a deep sense of pride in our country and the military way of life. His father's assignment to West Point as superintendent in September of 1954 had a lasting impact on Jamie's life. He established his goal to gain admission to West Point and to pursue a career in the Army as an Infantry officer. It was also during this early stage of his life that he developed a deep love for the outdoors and athletics which were to become important cornerstones of his life. Upon graduation from Manlius School in 1960, Jamie attended Braden's Preparatory School and subsequently entered West Point with the Class of 1965.
During his cadet days, Jamie won the lasting admiration and respect of his classmates and all others with whom he came in contact. Jamie was always one to follow closely the spirit, as well as the letter of regulations; his years at West Point were characterized by serious personal application and uncommon devotion to duty while providing a warm and sincere friendship to his classmates. Despite several recurring injuries, he competed on corps squad hockey and lacrosse, earning a Major "A" in the latter during his first class year. As a testimonial to his character, his classmates showed their greatest confidence and trust in him by electing him as a member of the cadet Honor Committee. Undoubtedly, his greatest thrill as a cadet was his selection as a cadet captain and the commander of Company A-1 . As a company commander, Jamie demonstrated the mature, no-nonsense approach to leadership that would serve him so well in his short, yet brilliant, Army career.
Upon graduation, Jamie's lifelong dream was realized when he was commissioned into the Infantry as a second lieutenant. After he completed Airborne and Ranger schools at Fort Benning, Georgia, his request to serve with an airborne unit was granted, and he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. While there, he served as a platoon leader of rifle, anti tank, and reconnaissance platoons. Following this assignment, he was selected to be the aide-de-camp to the commandant of the Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he served a year.
In 1967, Jamie volunteered for duty in the Republic of Vietnam where he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 1st Air Cavalry Division as a company commander. Jamie was seriously wounded while leading his company and was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry. Upon release from Walter Reed Army Hospital, he was assigned as an instructor to the Jungle Operations Training Center at Fort Sherman, Canal Zone. It was here that he met his future wife, Barbara, whom he married in 1970.
Upon recovering from his wounds, Jamie again, in 1969, volunteered for Vietnam and returned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, where he commanded another company, was wounded a second time, and received his second Silver Star for gallantry. Returning from Vietnam, he attended the Infantry Officers Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was then assigned to West Point for three years as a tactical officer and operations officer. During this tour at West Point, he earned his master's degree in business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also spent many a late night trying to refine his fishing skills on the lakes of Camp Buckner. Following his tour at West Point, Jamie attended Command and General Staff College where he continued his avid study of tactics and bass fishing.
In 1975, Jamie reported to the 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, 24th Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia where he served initially as the operations officer and then as the battalion executive officer. As with everything Jamie undertook, he quickly gained the respect and admiration of the men with whom he served in the 24th Infantry Division. In June 1977, he was selected to serve as the battalion operations officer of the 1st Ranger Battalion at Fort Stewart. The demanding mission, arduous training, and hand-picked soldiers of this elite organization presented a very special challenge to which Jamie again responded magnificently. Rangers of all ranks learned swiftly what the rest of us already knew: here was a winner . . . here was a soldier!
On 14 September 1977, while he was coordinating his unit's operations aboard an Air Force command and control aircraft near Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, we lost this great soldier and tremendous human being as the aircraft crashed into the side of a mountain just after takeoff.
To those of us who received the call that night, we will never forget the deep anguish which we still feel today in our hearts. Many friends traveled with Barbara to West Point. There, numerous other members of the family, family friends, and classmates came together on a rainy afternoon on 22 September 1977, to pay final respects to Jamie. It was a simple, yet beautiful ceremony. Taps played while the Ranger escort detail presented Jamie's mother and Barbara our national colors. It was a ceremony of which Jamie would have approved, for it epitomized the way of life he loved.
Jamie's return to West Point was most appropriate, for he had spent more years at West Point than any other place in his life -- first as a son, then as a cadet, and finally as a tactical officer for the Corps of Cadets. For many of us, the most memorable part of that ceremony occurred when Jamie was placed in his final resting place beside his father, Lieutenant General Blackshear M. Bryan, '22, and his brother, Major Blackshear M. Bryan, Jr., '54, who also had been killed in an airplane crash, in the Republic of Vietnam on 22 September 1967.
It was a memorable day, for it brought so many fine people together. We shared a common grief for a soldier, husband, classmate and friend, who was always willing to pay the ultimate price to defend our nation. God speed and rest well, Jamie. You've epitomized the ethic: Duty, Honor, Country.