Captain James Eddie Reed was born to Kenneth and Minnie Reed in Kingsport, Tennessee.
He grew up on a farm in West Carters Valley and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and exploring
with his brothers and friends. After graduating from Lynn View High School he attended
East Tennessee State University, where he lettered in Track and Field, excelling as
a runner and pole-vaulter; and participated in the Army ROTC program. He received
his BA degree and was commissioned as an Infantry officer in the United States Army,
in August 1964.
Entering active duty military service in January 1965, he graduated from the Infantry
Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and Ranger School, then served for two years
as an Advanced Infantry Training Officer, Platoon Leader, and Company Commander at
Fort Ord, California. In July 1967, he was promoted to Captain and reassigned to
Long An Province, Vietnam, as Company Commander of a counter-insurgency unit: Co A,
3rd/39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. He commanded the company for seven months,
until February 1, 1968, when he was killed in action during a heavy artillery attack
as part of the Tet Offensive. His final actions earned him the Silver Star and Purple
Heart. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Kingsport, Tennessee. His men refer
to him as “the best loved CO in Vietnam.”
His military decorations include: the Silver Star, two awards of the Bronze Star with
“V” Device, two awards of the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal
with “V” Device, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Airborne
Wings, and various service ribbons.
He is survived by his parents, Kenneth and Minnie Reed; his wife, Brenda Keck Reed;
a son, James Eddie Reed, Jr.; a daughter, Jamie Reed Burriss; four grandchildren;
and his brothers, Charles Benny Reed and Earl Lee Reed.
Within ETSU’s Buc Battalion, his legacy lives on in the Ranger Challenge Company which
bears his name.