Jim Bedinger was born in 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 30, 1963, and entered the Aviation Volunteer Reserve Officer Candidate program at NAS Pensacola, Florida, in June 1966. Bedinger was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on August 25, 1967, and completed Naval Flight Officer training and was awarded his Naval Flight Officer wings in May 1968. He then completed Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) training in the F-4 Phantom II with VF-121 at NAS Miramar, California, from June 1968 to February 1969, followed by service as an F-4 RIO with VF-143 flying off the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) from February 1969 until he was forced to eject over Laos and was taken as a Prisoner of War on November 22, 1969. After spending 1,223 days in captivity, LT Bedinger was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, and then served at NAS Miramar from September 1973 to August 1974. LCDR Bedinger next attended San Diego State University, earning his master's degree in June 1976. He then attended F-14 Tomcat RIO training with VF-124 at NAS Miramar from June 1976 to February 1977, followed by service as an F-14 RIO and Admin Officer with VF-114 at Miramar from February 1977 to June 1979. CDR Bedinger served on the staff of the Commander, Naval Military Personnel Command at the Pentagon from July 1979 to August 1984, and then served as a staff officer in the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon from August 1984 to August 1987. His final assignment was as the Comptroller for Naval Training Center San Diego, California, from August 1987 until his retirement from the Navy on August 1, 1989.
His Legion of Merit w/Valor Citation reads:
For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from November 1969 to March 1973. Under the most adverse of conditions, he resisted all attempts by the North Vietnamese to use him in causes detrimental to the United States, never wavering in his devotion and loyalty to the United States and his fellow prisoners. Despite the adversities of confinement, he performed such duties and responsibilities as assigned by superiors and required of the Code of Conduct in an exemplary and highly professional manner. Displaying extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and dedication throughout this period of imprisonment, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.