James Suh was born on March 2, 1977, in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in statistics in 1999, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on September 15, 2000. Suh attended basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, from January to March 2001, and completed Quartermaster School in May 2001. He next completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, Jump School, and SEAL Qualification training in August 2002, followed by Swimmer Delivery Vehicle training at Panama City, Florida, from August to November 2002. His first assignment was with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from December 2002 to February 2005, and then deployed to Afghanistan with SEAL Team TEN until he was killed in action during Operation Red Wings when the MH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade on June 28, 2005. James Suh was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
His Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads:
For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy while serving as Platoon Petty Officer, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 28 June 2005. As part of a Quick Reaction Force, Petty Officer Suh was sent to reinforce a Navy SEAL Special Reconnaissance element engaged in a fierce firefight against a numerically superior Anti-Coalition Militia near Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. The Special Reconnaissance element was under siege from enemy fire in extremely rugged and unforgiving terrain. Demonstrating exceptional resolve and fully comprehending the ramifications of the mission, Petty Officer Suh's element launched aboard a helicopter for direct insertion onto an active battlefield, ready to engage and destroy the enemy in order to protect the lives of their fellow SEALs. While airborne Petty Officer Suh continued working with members of his team to develop the plan of attack to support both a Quick Reaction Force and an urgent execution of the intended deliberate assault. As the helicopter hovered in preparation for a daring fast-rope insertion of the SEALs, the aircraft was struck by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade fired by Anti-Coalition Militia. The resulting explosion and impact caused the tragic and untimely loss of life of all onboard. Petty Officer Suh's bravery and heroism in the face of severe danger while fighting the Global War on Terrorism was extraordinary. By his courageous actions, zealous initiative, and loyal dedication to duty, Petty Officer Suh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.