Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas


1938 - 2012




3rd Armored Division



Patriot, Chapter 1919

 Army, Vietnam


James B. Deeter was born in Logansport, Indiana in 1938.  He moved around frequently and attended ten different public schools during his growing-up years.  When he enlisted in the Army in 1955 he entered active duty on July 22nd from Logansport. Patriot James B. Deeter passed away November 9, 2012 at age 74.


He signed up for service in the 3rd Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky because it had been designated as a “gyroscope” division being prepared for deployment to Germany and that’s where he wanted to go.  Upon arrival in the division, Jim was further assigned to the 45th Armored Medical Battalion and after his Basic Training at Fort Knox he went to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for Advanced Individual Training as a Dental Assistant.  After graduation, he returned to his unit just in time for the division to make the move to Germany.


3rd Armored Division was stationed at Frankfurt and Jim Deeter served out his initial three-year overseas tour there.  At that same time, Elvis Presley was also in 3rd Armored Division; but Jim never had a chance to see the famous rock and roll star during his assignment there.  Upon his return from Germany, Jim was stationed at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.


While at Fort Sheridan, he took up Scuba Diving as a hobby.  Many of the members of the local club were in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit there and because Jim was impressed with the professionalism of the EOD men and spent a lot of time with them, he applied for EOD training himself.  It took time for the background investigation to be completed and for the granting of the required security clearance and for the other prerequisites for the specialty before he could be sent to the training course.  Upon graduation, James Deeter received his Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist skill rating on November 11, 1961, and he would stay in that career specialty for the remainder of his time in the Army.


Because the EOD function is to evaluate, render safe, and remove explosive devices that pose a safety threat, those units are depended upon to perform that hazardous work in peacetime as well as wartime.  Specially trained units support first responders at the local, state and federal levels and EOD operators are called upon as needed by the FBI and other federal agencies. 


During his career, Jim had many interesting experiences and he recounted one of his most memorable ones in this way,  “While serving with an Army team providing protection for Secretary Henry Kissinger during a conference in 1974 in Spain, the Spanish Minister of Defense, Admiral Carrero Blanco, was assassinated by a bomb detonated beneath his vehicle by Basque separatists.  The explosion was only two blocks from our hotel, and Vice President Gerald Ford came to represent the United States at Minister Blanco’s state funeral.  Our team was extended to support that unexpected and unplanned mission and after it was over there were delays in getting us back home.  The State Department finally put us on a Lufthansa plane for a flight back to Germany.”   Jim still has a souvenir ballpoint pen given to him then by Vice President Ford.  But all of this happened after his time in Vietnam and that is getting ahead of his purple heart story.


James Deeter served a tour with the 25th EOD Detachment in Vietnam from April 1967 – April 1968.  The 25th EOD was located at An Khe, base camp of the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters, but deployed to whatever locations were required whenever the need arose.  Sizeable missions taking several weeks to complete included the disposal of unexploded munitions remaining after a large ammunition dump had blown up at “LZ Guadalcanal” near Qui Nhon on the coast in June 1967, and again after similar events had occurred at “LZ English” near Bong Son, and Da Nang. 


Jim was wounded at Quang Tri on January 14, 1968.  He says, “The 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division had called us for a mission there.  Their troops had captured some ammunition, an assortment of various types and calibers, probably cached by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in preparation for the TET Offensive which began only days later, but, we did not know that at the time.  We had a platoon of Infantry providing security and were in the process of disposal of the ammunition “on-site” where it had been captured.   A large shell crater was chosen for the disposal and I was in the bottom of the hole, filling it with the munitions.  As I was placing a Chicom mortar fuze on a claymore mine, the fuze detonated also triggering a low-order detonation of the mine.  Initially stunned and disoriented, I was unconsciously throwing smoking munitions out of the hole as I slowly regained awareness of where I was and what had happened.  My first memory is of the Medic and hearing him say, “You are dead,” as he was looking down in the crater at me bleeding all over and with my uniform in tatters.”


 Taken back to the Aid Station, his wounds were treated and his face was bandaged to protect the open wound to his jaw, but Jim had not even had time to change into a clean set of jungle fatigues before an emergency call came for his services from a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.  A 500 lb. Bomb was just outside the brigade’s Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and before it could be removed and destroyed at a safe location, twenty-four hours had passed after being wounded before Jim was off duty and had a chance to clean up and change clothes.  He never did have time to check back in with the medics and, until being prepped for a knee replacement operation in 1993, some 25 years later, he hadn’t known he still had shrapnel in his right leg all that time.


In 1976, James B. Deeter, First Sergeant of the 47th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) at Fort Hood, Texas, retired to Austin.  He had a partnership in a Motorcycle Shop for seven years, was with the Post Office for another 18 years after that, and is currently retired .  He is an active member of Chapter 1919, he rarely misses a meeting and he is one of our volunteer servers that takes turns working shifts at the Purple Heart Coffee Bar in the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic on Montopolis Drive.


Jim Deeter (left)

1962 Marksmanship Awards Ceremony

SP6 James B. Deeter Receives Purple Heart at Awards Ceremony


Preparing Munitions for Disposal in Vietnam

Jim Deeter at AN KHE Base Camp with 25th EOD Det Team

AN KHE Base Camp of 25th EOD


Detainee Captured In Camp


Jim Deeter & 25th EOD Det Jeep at CHU LAI


Downtown AHN KHE




SP5 Jim Deeter


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