James Azevedo was born on January 22, 1948, in California. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 22, 1965 at Navy and Marine Corp Reserve Center, Bakersfield. After attending weekly meetings for a year and graduating high school, he reported for active duty at Naval Station, Long Beach and was assigned to Inshore Undersea Warfare Group 1 in July of 1966. In October of 1966, he volunteered to deploy to the Republic of Vietnam with IUWG-1 WESTPAC Det. Unit 2 and underwent Counter Insurgency and SERE training at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado. During his tour with the harbor defense unit at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, from December 1966 to November 1967, he was field promoted to SM3. His next assignment was at Naval Station Annapolis, Maryland, from December 1967 until his enlistment ended and he left active duty on June 20, 1968. SM2 Azevedo reenlisted on August 14, 1968, and then served aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Guam (LPH-9) from September 1968 to January 1973, followed by precommissioning training at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, from January to March 1973 and assignment to the destroyer escort USS Ainsworth (DE-1090) from March 1973 to April 1974. He next served on the staff of Commander, Cruisers Destroyers Pacific located in San Diego, California from April 1974 to March 1975. SM1 Azevedo attended Instructor School at Naval Training Center, San Diego, California, from March to April 1975, and then served as an instructor at Signalman "A" School, NTC San Diego from May 1975 to May 1978. SMC Azevedo's next assignment was aboard the tank landing ship USS San Bernardino (LST-1189) from May 1978 to February 1981. He was the first crewmember in the command's history to be designated an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist. He next served in the guided-missile cruiser USS Gridley (CG-21) from February 1981 to September 1982. SMC Azevedo served as a Recruit Company Commander at Recruit Training Command, San Diego from January 1983 to February 1986, and then as a Staff Signalman with Commander, Amphibious Squadron 5 at Naval Station San Diego from February to October 1986. His next assignment was as Leading Chief, Navigation/Administration Department aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49) from October 1986 to March 1991, followed by attending the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy at NETC Newport, Rhode Island, from March to May 1991. SMCS Azevedo then served as the Senior Enlisted Advisor and Leading Chief Signalman for the precommissioning unit for the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) from May 1991 to October 1992, where he was advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer. He served in USS Essex after her commissioning from October 1992 to July 1994. His final assignment was as Command and Control Warfare Division Leading Chief Petty Officer and Instructor at Afloat Training Group Pacific at Naval Station San Diego from July 1994 until his retirement from the Navy on September 1, 1996.
His Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious service while serving as Command and Control Warfare Division Leading Chief Petty Officer and Instructor at Afloat Training Group Pacific from July 1994 to August 1996. Performing as an outstanding instructor aboard more than 70 ships, he standardized the Signalman training process by producing on-the-job technical handouts and a library of computer programs including an extensive 1500 question and answer study guide. His exceptional knowledge of command, control, and communications enabled more than 70 officers and enlisted personnel to successfully complete the tailored ship's training availability process, significantly enhancing their war fighting skills. Master Chief Petty Officer Azevedo's distinctive accomplishments, unrelenting perseverance, and steadfast devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.