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



In Memory of U.S. Navy Boatswain’s Mate Second Class

James Lawrence Lien

Lead, South Dakota, Lawrence County

 January 7, 1946 – February 27, 1968

Killed in Action at Can Tho River in Vietnam

James Lawrence “Jimmy” Lien was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, on January 7, 1946. His parents were Russell and Adelia (Eckert) Lien. He had two sisters, Judy and Sandy. James grew up in Lead, South Dakota, where he attended schools before he joined the Navy in April of 1964, after his first year of high school.

James Lien entered the active services in Denver, Colorado, on April 7, 1964. While he was in the Navy, James earned his high school diploma. He also taught other sailors to swim, according to his sister, Judy. Lien went overseas to Vietnam as a Boatswain’s Mate Second Class.

With less than 30 days to go in the Navy, Lien volunteered to go on a mission when another man got sick. On February 27, 1968, BM2 James Lawrence Lean was killed in action in Vietnam when he received “multiple fragment wounds.” The family was notified by telegram from the Vice Admiral of the navy who wrote:

I deeply regret to confirm on behalf of the United States Navy that your son BM3 James Lawrence Lien, was killed in action at Can Tho River, South Vietnam while conducting river line assault operations against the enemy. The exact date of death is unknown at this time. However, that will be furnished to you as soon as it is known…Your son died while serving his country. I extend to you my sincere sympathy in your great loss.

The body of BM3 James Lien was later returned to the United States and buried with military honors at Black Hills National Cemetery. At the time of his death, James Lawrence Lien was survived by his parents and his sisters. On the remembrances on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site, his cousin left a message; it read, “We almost made it Jimmy… I’m so sorry we did not go to San Diego together that September morn in 1967...See Ya kid.”

Another remembrance was posted in his memory by John L. Miller, RM3 A-111-5, who wrote:

I met Jim at NIOTC training and we really hit it off. He always kept things light and happy. When my wife came out to Vallejo, CA to see me, of course Jim was invited where we went. Since this was his second tour, she asked him to take care of me. If we went on liberty, we went together. We kept each other straight. The night he was killed, I remember taking the coded numbers as a radioman on A-111-5( he was on our sister boat A-111-4) the night that we were heavily attacked by the V.C. of the personnel who were killed that night and the devastation I felt when I uncode[d] his number to his name. It was one of the hardest letters I ever had to write to let my wife know that he'd been killed in action. I often wondered why a young, full of life person like Jim should have to die so early. I guess God had other plans for him in Heaven.

Only Jimmy Lien’s sister, Judy Robinson, and her family survive him.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Alexis Rigby, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on September 29, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by a Vietnam bonus application and Rapid City Journal March 13, 1968, and March 14th, 1968, and Profile approval by Judy Robinson, Bellevue, Nebraska.


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