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Born on Feb. 10, 1947
Casualty was on Nov. 8, 1967

Panel 29E - - Line 52

James Lee Navarro with Dad, Salvadore
March 1947

Picture courtesy of David Navarro

LCpl. James Navarro served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Mike Company 2nd Platoon. He was Killed In Action on November 8, 1967 during Operation ESSEX. His name stands proudly on the Mike 3/5 Wall of Honor alongside the Marines he fought and died with. Semper fi, Brother. We will never forget.

Operation ESSEX

Point Man

Navarro, I knew him pretty well. He was always gung-ho. He liked walking point. The day the one guy from 1st plt. sat on a .155 booby trap, my squad was sent to walk point and Navarro was in my squad. He took point. We were walking down a trail that looked so much like a trail at ITR training.

We got ambushed by a couple of NVA that were left back to slow us up. We hit the deck, I noticed Navarro wasn't at the head of the squad. We got up and got on line to assault the position. When we got past the enemy position, we found Navarro's body behind the enemy laying face down with a bowie knife in his hand. He always carried it around. He must have tried to get behind the enemy and assault from the rear. I don't know if they ever put him up for a medal.

Elliot "Recon" Rubenfeld
2nd plt. M/3/5

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James Navarro's USMC Combat Handbook
Parris Island, 1966
Courtesy of David Navarro

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Letter written by Rudy Espinoza, 2nd plt. M/3/5 to James Navarro's parents

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Telegram sent to James Navarro's family

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Troy State University Obituary for James Navarro

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James' grandfather

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James' parents and friends

James and little brother, David

My Brother

Jim and I grew up in Nashville, GA. After one year at Troy State in Alabama, he enlisted in the Marines. He felt it was the right thing to do and that he would make a difference. He went willingly, and faced his death bravely. Members of his platoon said his rifle jammed, and the last they saw of him he was facing the VC with his Bowie knife. He was the strongest of us, he was the best of our family.

The quintessential big brother - he would pound me at the slightest indiscretion, but let anyone else try it and he was always between me and them. He joined the Marines because he felt it was the right thing to do. My father was career military and survived WWII and the Korean War, and was stationed in Thailand during Vietnam. Jim volunteered for Vietnam because he wanted to help the US effort there against communism.

A child during the cold war with the USSR, he found a way to become involved. He never backed down from a threat larger than him. We had just started to become friends when he was 20 and I was 18. We finally had something in common, coming of age. We watched "The Dirty Dozen" at the Alhambra Theatre before he left for Vietnam. His death, only a bit more than a month of being in-country, was the biggest shock of my life. The numbness was incredible.

I really started to miss him as I grew older. He and I had grown up together. We almost burnt a field and the house we were renting in rural Pennsylvania when I was about 5. (I'm the one who lit the match and my dad wore me out). We went to see Rin Tin Tin in Pittsburgh a year or so later. Then, we lived in France for four years during the mid-and-later 1950's. My father took us to races at Le Mans twice...the Brussels Worlds Fair in '58, Paris, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland and way more...all over. 

Among the adventures were a bullfight in Barcelona, excellent spaghetti in a restaurant off a canal in Venice, a near fight with an English boy close to his age when we were skiing in the Swiss Alps The kid had claimed that Davy Crockett was English, not American. Big mistake. My father broke it up.

My father was proud of him. My younger siblings were never really in the picture then or during high school when we played football together for Berrien High in Nashville, GA. Then, he was mostly a big pain to me. He imposed his standards on me at times. We were totally different. He was a major jock and rarely partied. He had one girlfriend all through high school. I liked to play football but partied hard, shot pool for a living and had numerous 3-month torrid high school romances. The loss is deeper as the years pass. He missed so much of what life has to offer.~David Navarro

Big Brother

Jim was my big brother...he was big and he was tough. He took the time to do things with and for me. He helped me with school, he taught me how to play baseball and he taught me how to build models...mainly airplanes, but some cars too. I was 15 years old when he was killed. He was only 20. I regret that we never had the chance to get to know each as men. Jim was proud of the way that I played 3rd base...In these later years I have often wondered if he would have been proud of the man I am. I hope so.

I am very proud of my big brother...for who he was and for what he did...he is my hero.

In November 1990 I had to opportunity to visit the Wall in Washington. Below is a copy of the note that I left there for him.


You were my big brother, I never told you how much I loved you,
I never told you how proud I was of you,
I never thanked you for the many, many things you did for me,
I never told you goodbye...I never dreamed you wouldn't come back,
I shook your hand, I should have hugged you,
I never told you how much I loved you..
.but you were my big brother and, dear God,
I hope you knew.


Jim was one of the good guys, at Berrien High and, I'm sure, in RVN.

RVN '68-'69
John Futch