Veteran of the Week: Clinkscale represents wife at Tomb of Unknown Vietnam Soldier
Published 4:12 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
James Albert (Jim) Bunn joined the U.S. Army on his 17th birthday, March 17, 1952.
He married his childhood sweetheart Rachel Wyatt on Christmas Eve, 1954, and they lived the life of a non-commissioned military couple.
“Some men are born to be soldiers and Jim was one,” said Rachel Bunn Clinkscale of Vincent.
First Sergeant Bunn served in Korea and Vietnam Wars and was one of the original Green Berets. He volunteered for his second Vietnam tour in 1967 where he was Platoon Sergeant of Company “A,” 101st Airborne Division.
He was awarded the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and Army Commendation Medal for Valor. On Feb. 2, 1968, Bunn was shot and killed in action trying to rescue one of his soldiers during the Tet Offensive.
Widow Rachel and three young daughters, Desiree, seventh grade, Cindy, fifth grade and Carol age 3, moved to Alabama to be close to family.
She joined the Gold Star Wives, an organization whose spouses have been killed in war. She has worked tirelessly over the years to increase benefits for military widows and their children.
She became the Gold Star national president from 1984-1986 and remarried Bill Clinkscale.
Rachel was honored to represent the Gold Star wife of the Unknown American who died in defense of freedom during the Vietnam Conflict.
She met the body, flown from Hawaii, at Andrews Air Force base where it was borne by caisson to the Rotunda and lay in state for three days.
The funeral service for the Unknown Vietnam Soldier was held on May 28, 1984, at Arlington National Cemetery.
President Ronald Reagan presented the Unknown with the Medal of Honor, laid the presidential wreathe and received his flag folded by the Color Guard.
The Vietnam Unknown was laid to rest between the Tombs of the Unknown of WWII and Korea. “When they closed the tomb, it all came back to me, losing Jim,” said Rachel. “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lays down his life for his friends. Jim told me he went back to Vietnam to help save his men’s lives. He died trying. He was only 32.”