Jim Walsh was born in 1946 in Winsted, Connecticut. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on August 30, 1968, and went on active duty to attend Officer Candidate School on September 30, 1968, earning his commission as a 2d Lt in the U.S. Marine Corps at MCB Quantico, Virginia, on December 6, 1968. Due to the Navy not being able to handle the volume of Marines going through flight school in the 1969-1971 time frame, Lt Walsh next completed Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Reese AFB, Texas, in March 1970, followed by A-4 Skyhawk transition training with VMT-103 at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, from April to September 1970. He remained with VMT-103 as an A-4 instructor pilot from September 1970 to June 1971, and then served as an A-4 pilot with VMA-214 at MCAS El Toro, California, from June 1971 to May 1972. His next assignment was as an A-4 pilot and Safety Officer with Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 12 (H&MS-12), Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in South Vietnam from June to September 1972, followed by service as an A-4 pilot with VMA-211 in South Vietnam from September 2, 1972, until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on September 26, 1972. After spending 140 days in captivity, Capt Walsh was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries, and then attended F-4 Phantom II transition training with VMFAT-101 at MCAS Yuma from October 1973 to July 1974. His next assignment was as an F-4 pilot with VMFA-314 at MCAS El Toro from August 1974 to November 1975, followed by service as a Maintenance Officer with H&MS-11, MAG-11 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS El Toro from November 1975 to March 1976. Capt Walsh returned to VMFA-314 at El Toro as an F-4 pilot from March to July 1976, and again served as a Maintenance Officer with H&MS-11 at El Toro from July to October 1976. His next assignment was as an A-4 pilot with VMA-211, MAG-13 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS El Toro from October 1976 to September 1977, followed by service as an instructor with Marine Air Weapons Training Unit Pacific at El Toro from September 1977 to April 1978. Capt Walsh left active duty and joined the Marine Corps Reserve on May 1, 1978, and then served as a reserve A-4 pilot with VMA-134 at MCAS El Toro from July 1978 to April 1981. His next assignment was as a reserve A-4 pilot with MAG-42 at MCAS El Toro from April to December 1981, followed by service as a reserve A-4 pilot with VMA-322 at NAS South Weymouth, Massachusetts, from December 1981 to February 1983. Lt Col Walsh served as Officer in Charge of Detachment D with H&MS-42 at NAS South Weymouth from February 1983 to March 1985, and then as a reserve A-4 pilot back with VMA-322 at NAS South Weymouth from March 1985 to September 1986. He was then assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve Support Command at Overland Park, Kansas, from September 1986 until his retirement from the Marine Corps Reserve on December 1, 1988. After leaving active duty and while serving in the Marine Corps Reserve, Jim flew as a commercial airline pilot with Continental Airlines.
His Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads:
For heroic achievement from September 1972 to February 1973 while interned as a Prisoner of War (POW) in Southeast Asia. Upon ejecting from his stricken aircraft, Captain Walsh parachuted to the ground in the midst of a sizable enemy unit. He immediately drew his service revolver and fired on the opposing force, inflicting a casualty. Taking cover he continued to engage his adversaries until he ran out of ammunition, at which time he was captured. Placed in a boat en route to a POW camp, he again attempted to escape, but was unsuccessful. Once formally interned, Captain Walsh maintained his high degree of tenacity by resisting his captors efforts to secure any information from him. By his steadfast policy of noncooperation with the enemy, he provided leadership by example for his fellow POW's. His courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.