James Gavin: a coach and a hero

James Gavin is an assistant for the Trojanette volleyball team

Haileigh Hendricks, Student Writer

Sergeant First Class James Gavin (Jim) was an extremely dedicated member of the military from July of 1967, when he started basic training, until December of 1987, when he retired. Today, Jim is a proud military Veteran who served in the Vietnam War. When Jim began his journey in the summer of 1967, he had no idea what would happen, or how far he would go.

It was the summer of 1967 when Jim Gavin made one of the toughest decisions of his life, joining the Military. He was stationed for 8 weeks at Fort Gordon, Georgia, better known as Camp Gordon, for basic training and advanced infantry training. When I spoke with Mr. Gavin about his experience, he stated, “When I was there I learned that there are three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way, and the army way.”

In January of 1968 he began parachute training in Fort Benning, Georgia. The parachute training course is three weeks long: ground week, tower week, and jump week. Rigorous physical training is emphasized throughout the whole course as well.

In March of 1969, Gavin was in the Republic of South Vietnam for the 173rd airborne brigade.  When I asked him how he felt when he returned home in October of 1969, he said, “I was both happy and sad to be home, happy to be out of the war zone, and sad to leave the men I lived and fought with everyday.” Gavin said he had a strong bond with them and he still does today. They keep in touch through mail, text, phone, and reunions on a yearly basis.

In December of 1970, he began Intelligence Analyst Training. Gavin also started training for the Army Security Agency at the Army Security Agency Training and School in Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The Army Security Agency was the United States Army’s signals intelligence branch.

In June of 1971, Gavin was in the Republic of China for the Army Security Agency. Aside from intelligence gathering, the ASA had responsibility for the security of Army communications and for electronic countermeasures operations. Gavin was in the Republic of China again in June of 1973.

In June of 1972 and 1975, Gavin was in Thailand working for the 7th Radio Research Field Station.

In January of 1976 he was in Okinawa, Japan for Intelligence and Security Command. The Intelligence and Security Command executes mission command of operational intelligence and security forces; conducts and synchronizes worldwide multi-discipline and all-source intelligence and security operations. It also delivers linguist support and intelligence-related advanced skills training, acquisition support, logistics, communications, and other specialized capabilities in support of Army, Joint, and Coalition Commands and the U.S. Intelligence Community.

In January of 1979, Gavin was in San Antonio, Texas at The Keeley Air Force Base for Intelligence and Security Command.

In January of 1980, Gavin was in Augsburg, Germany working for the Intelligence and Security Command.

In January of 1983 Gavin was in Fort George G Meade, Maryland at the Intelligence and Security Command Headquarters and also at the National Security Agency.

Throughout all of his time spent in the military, Gavin earned many awards and decorations including:

-Combat Infantry Badge

-Parachute Badge

-Bronze Star Medal

-Meritorious Service Medal

-Army Commendation Medal

-Presidential Unit Citation

-Meritorious Unit Commendation

-National Defense Service Medal

-Vietnam Service Medal

-Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation

-Air Medal

-Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (unit citation)

-Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon

He received six Army Good Conduct Medals, and five Overseas Service Ribbons.

It wasn’t until December of 1987 that Sergeant First Class James J. Gavin retired. When I asked Gavin to explain what it felt like to be a part of something so big and important he said, “It’s easy to speak to someone who has been in combat but impossible to explain it to someone who has never served.”

Today, Gavin, or as I call him, “coach,” is a proud military Veteran and a dedicated coach of the Greater Nanticoke Area girls volleyball team.