WADDELL, JAMES DARRELL
WADDELL, JAMES DARRELL
Rank / Branch:
SGT E-4 U.S. Army
Date of Birth:
Awards & Decorations:
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JAMES DARRELL WADDELL, SERGEANT, U.S. ARMY, LAMESA, DAWSON COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star with "V" device and Oak Leaf Cluster (2 Awards), Purple Heart, Army Commendation's Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, RVN Campaign Medal, RVN Military Merit Medal
James Darrell Waddell was born in Odessa, Texas the second child and only son of five children to Dorothy Leona Cope Waddell and William James Waddell. Jimmy's father worked for Halliburton in the early days and the family moved around with the oilfield. Jimmy attended schools in Rule, Iraan, Coleman, and Lamesa, Texas. He was a 1967 graduate of Lamesa High School. After high school he joined the U.S. Army on the buddy plan on July 27th, 1967.
Jimmy completed his basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, then completed Armor crew training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He received orders for Korea and then attended a gunnery course at Fort Bliss, Texas prior to departing. His tour in Korea began on February 1, 1968. He was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 7th Battalion, 17th Artillery as driver and tank crewman. He re-enlisted in the Army in May 1968 in order to get leave to get married. He volunteered for Vietnam in the process. He departed Korea for a 30 day leave on July 11, 1968.
He began his tour in Vietnam on August 12, 1968 and was assigned to Troop G, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cav Regiment (Separate) as a scout observor. In April 1, 1969 he was transferred to H Company, 2d Squadron, 11th ACR as a tank driver. He completed his tour first on August 2, 1969. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with "V" device when he saved a tank from falling to enemy hands after the tank had been hit by an RPG. The tank was abandoned and was on fire when he climbed into it and drove it out of the hostile area, despite heavy gun fire being directed at him. He also received a slight leg wound from scrapnel during the event.
He reported to Fort Hood, Texas on September 22, 1969 and was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division. He volunteered to return to Vietnam after a year at Fort Hood. His second tour began on November 2, 1970. He had six months left in the Army and he had decided to get out as soon as his enlistment ended in May, 1971. He returned to the 11th Armored Cavalry and was assigned as a gunner with Troop E, 2nd Squadron. SP/4 Waddell was killed in a non-hostile accident on April 14, 1971 when he was training a new tank driver and he was sitting outside on the turrent. As the tank was moving he was giving instructions down through the escape hatch. The tank was accidentally downshifted causing a sudden jolt and Jimmy was thrown from the tank and he was run over before the driver could stop.
Burial-Coleman City Cemteery, Coleman, Texas
Jimmy was buried in the Coleman City Cemetery in Coleman, Texas with full military honors. Jimmy's mother and father had grown up in Coleman County. He was posthumously promoted to Sergeant and he was awarded a Bronze Star (second award) for meritorious service and the RVN Military Merit Medal. Jimmy was survived by his wife, his older sister Brenda, his younger sisters, Barbara, Sandra and Rebecca. The family moved to Midland after Jimmy's death in Vietnam.
Jimmy's father passed away in 1994 and is buried next to him in Coleman. Brenda Fuller, the oldest sister, lives with their mother in Midland, Texas. His sister, Barbara James recently moved back to Midland from Pennsylvania; his sister Sandra Calhoun lives in Midland and his youngest sister Becky Grantham lives in Lubbock.