This obituary is for Lt. Col. James M. Stamper, Jr., one of the greatest men I’ve ever had the honor of knowing.
Lt. Col. James M. Stamper, Jr. 89 years of age, passed away Monday, May 18, 2020, at his home after an amazing life full of honorable accomplishments.
James was born August 1, 1930, the son of James and Frances Stamper. He grew up in the Lake City/Live Oak area, but throughout life and his extensive military career, he travelled the world until ultimately ended up residing on Marco Island. James dedicated his life to the military in which his accomplishments and service remain nothing short of remarkable and commendable.
We want to offer a bit of background of his lifelong commitment and some of the goals he achieved which partially formed the incredible man he was and why he changed history and lives during his time here.
James entered the Army in 1947 as a private and was assigned to “G” Company of the 505th Regiment, 82nd Airborne after completing basic training. By March of 1949, he had earned the Expert Infantry Badge, served as a jumpmaster, graduated several service schools and was a candidate for Soldier of the Year. In 1950, he volunteered as an Airborne Ranger to fight in Korea where later in 1951 he was wounded at Bloody Nose Ridge in North Korea but refused medical evacuation and remained to push forward with his company. Later that year, he was assigned to “G” Company 187th ARCT, Japan then returned in 1952 to the 508th ARCT, Ft. Benning where he was assigned as a special duty instructor to the Ranger Department at the North Georgia Ranger Camp. As his dedication and determination continued to excel and exceed expectations, he became the 1st Combat Ranger to be assigned to the 10th Special Forces unit until he went to OCS and was then commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1954.
By 1959, James had received his regular Army commission as a 1st Lieutenant and went on to become a fixed & rotary wing and instrument–rated aviator which led to him being assigned to Italy in 1961. His Airborne Ranger and Special Forces qualifications made him the optimal choice to command the SETAF LRP Unit tasked to train the Italian Army Parachute Brigade. He returned to Conus and was selected to command the 11th Air Assault Division Helicopter Gunship Company which was designated as the 1st Air Calvary Division in 1954.
Now a Major, James went to Vietnam and flew over 500 combat missions as Commander of the 11th Air Assault Unit. James earned awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, (8) Air Medals of Valor and many other US and Foreign awards. He also holds the CIB, Master Parachutist Wings, Senior Army Aviator/Glider/Air Assault/Expert Infantry/Italian Master parachutist badges and several others. He is also the recipient of the Sikorsky Aircraft “Medal of Honor” for rescuing more than 120 civilians in the Italian Alps during extreme weather and hazardous flying conditions. In 1999, James received the Korean War Ranger of the year award. His military record and accomplishments speak for itself as truly exemplary and an outstanding example of a great soldier who proved “Be all you can be” is absolutely possible. Lt. Col. James M. Stamper had been officially inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.
Outside of his unquestionably remarkable military career, James was also a truly unforgettable man, full of love, worldwide experiences, a wealth of knowledge with a fantastic sense of humor and an incomparable zest to live life to the fullest. James was a loving husband, father, friend and mentor that we were blessed to have had in our lives. One of a kind that always left an impression.
James leaves behind his children, grandchildren, family, and friends who will love and miss him forever. His final wishes were to not have any official service, as he simply wished for everyone to remember him for who he was. This request is difficult only in respects that we feel he deserves the highest honors and show of gratitude for who he was and all he did in life; however, his wishes will be honored just as he requested. We ask that everyone say a prayer and remember this great man as he is now in heaven dancing through the skies with his lifelong soulmate and love of his life, Judie. Their love and connection to one another was always truly a fairy tale, from the soul kind of love that we would all be blessed to have in life.
James, you will be missed forever, respected and honored eternally. You without question left a mark on this world and in all our lives and hearts. You will be remembered always.
“Hoo–Rah” & God Bless all our fallen rangers, including our dearest James now having become one.
We love you.