Austin, James Earl, MSG

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 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Master Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Ordnance Corps
Last Primary MOS
55D-Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist
Last MOS Group
Ordnance (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1970-1971, 55D, 44th Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
Service Years
1950 - 1971

Master Sergeant

Seven Service Stripes

Five Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SGT James E. Reece, III (Team Leader, Vietnam Profiles) to remember Austin, James Earl (Duke), MSG.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
South Bend, IN
Last Address
South Bend, IN

Casualty Date
Feb 18, 1971
Hostile, Died
Other Explosive Device
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
City Cemetery - South Bend, Indiana
Wall/Plot Coordinates
05W 114

 Official Badges 

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 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  2016, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2018, The National Gold Star Family Registry

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Explosives Ordnance Disposal (Master)

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Special Troops Battalion, 8th ArmyOrdnance Units
  1951-1951, 3533, Special Troops Battalion, 8th Army
  1968-1970, 55D, 44th Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
  1970-1970, 55D, 3rd Ordnance Battalion EOD Section, 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
  1970-1970, 55D, 170th Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
  1970-1971, 55D, 44th Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1951-1951 Korean War/First UN Counteroffensive (1951)
  1951-1951 Korean War/CCF Spring Offensive (1951)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase V Campaign (1968)
  1968-1969 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VI Campaign (1968-69)
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Tet 69 Counteroffensive Campaign
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
  1969-1970 Vietnam War/Winter-Spring 1970 Campaign
  1970-1970 Vietnam War/Sanctuary Counteroffensive Campaign (1970)
  1970-1971 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VII Campaign (1970-71)
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Apr 01, 2014, General Photos4
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Casualty Occurrence: See below.

MSG James Earl (Duke) Austin was killed on 18 February 1971.  MSG Austin was assigned to an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team that had responded to a request for assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to clean up the Des-Me Trans Ammunition Storage Point.  The Des-Me Trans Ammunition Storage Point, had sustained a mass detonation and explosive ordnance disposal specialists were called in to clean up the unexploded ordnance.  MSG Austin was killed instantly when a M524 fuze and booster expelled from a 4.2-inch white phosphorus mortar that he carrying to a holding area. 

MSG Austin was examining the fuze at the time when it embedded in his chest.  The booster did not function and the mortar did not ignite, but was smoking.  MSG Austin's body with the unexploded ordnance in his chest was flown by Army fix-wing aircraft to Saigon Military Hospital, where members of his former unit, the 170th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) met the aircraft.  The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was not aware until the aircraft landed that the victim was one of their own, as MSG Austin had earlier served with the 170th. 

At the time of his death MSG Austin was assigned to the 44th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 3rd Ordnance Battalion, 53rd General Support Group, Army Support Command Saigon, United States Army, Vietnam, Chu Chi, Binh Duong Province, Republic of Vietnam.  Other members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team were SFC Ralph R. Tate, SSG Fremon Thomas, and SP5 David L. Curtis.  SFC Tyrone E. Ty Ney, who was working with Combined Material Exploitation Center (CMEC) at the time of the accident, arrived at the accident site right after it happen.  MSG Austin was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the National Defense Medal, Order of Division (Cambodian).  MSG Austin was a Silver Star Medal recipient.

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