SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of U.S. Marines Corps Private First Class

James Lee Fuchs

Vermillion, South Dakota, Clay County

July 17, 1947 – February 6, 1968

Killed in Action in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam

James Lee “Jim” Fuchs was born at Dakota Hospital, Vermillion, South Dakota, on July 17, 1947, to Robert V. and Cleo M (Lee) Fuchs. Jim had two brothers, Paul and William, and two sisters, Joanne and Gayle. Jim was active in football and was a 4-H member and enjoyed showing a steer at fair time. He was a lifelong member of Saint Agnes Catholic Church where he was baptized and confirmed. Jim attended Jolly School from Kindergarten through third grade then attended Fairview County School through the eighth grade, and graduated from Vermillion High School in 1966. His brother, Bill, remembers that Jim always wanted to be a Marine. While James was in Vietnam, Bill put a map of Vietnam on his bedroom wall so that he could look at it when he heard the names of towns on the news.

James Lee Fuchs enlisted on July 18, 1967. Private Fuchs received basic training at Camp Penleton, California. He went home on leave after his basic training. Before he left, his mother told him, “Be careful,” to which James replied, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll be back alive.” Bill went with James and their dad to take him to Omaha for his plane trip back to California. James received further training for motor vehicle operations and then was sent overseas on January 4, 1968, as part of the 1st Marine Division, 1st Tank Battalion. The tanks had special road building and river fording capabilities by using Blade Tanks, similar to a bulldozer. “Private Fuchs primary mission was to support the division’s infantry units engaged in combat with direct supporting fire.” Bill remembers that he would worry every day when there was a casualty count on the news.

Private First Class James Lee Fuchs was killed in action on February 6, 1968, while fighting on the front lines. He was killed by small arms fire in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam. Not yet knowing he’d been killed, his family was excited and happy to receive a letter from James and even then went to town. In the evening just after they arrived home, the family was informed of James’s death by the priest and a Marine officer followed by a telegram from the government. After his body was returned to the United States, Private First Class James Lee Fuchs was buried with military honors at Calvary Cemetery in Vermillion, on February 19, 1968. He received the Purple Heart posthumously.

James Lee Fuchs was survived by his brother, Paul, Vermillion; his brother, William, Pierre, South Dakota; his sister Joanne Rolfes, Bloomfield, Nebraska; and his sister Gayle Fuchs, Vermillion. In closing, James’s brother, Bill, told us: “Although I was only eleven at the time, I remember it like it was yesterday, but mostly I remember how hard it was on my mom and dad. I am forty-nine now and still think of it often.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Dan Berryhill, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota on October 4, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by The Vermillion Plain Talk, February 8, 1968, February 15, 1968, and February 19, 1968 issues, Joanne Rolfes, sister, and Bill Fuchs, brother. Profile approval by Bill Fuchs and Joanne Rolfes.


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