Roll of Honor

Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NROTC) parade, 1965 Columbian

James J. Shea

  • School: Columbia College
  • Class Year: 1966
  • War: Vietnam War
  • Date of Death: November 16, 1972

US Marine Corps Captain James J. Shea was an NROTC (US Marine Corps option) student who graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in Psychology in 1966. Captain Shea perished when his TA-4 Skyhawk plane crashed while on a routine training flight mission. Captain Shea was attached to the Kingsville, Texas Naval Air Station for refresher training. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

James T. Shea
James T. Shea
James T. Shea, Daily News newspaper clipping
James Shea, 1966 Crown and Anchor
Jim Shea and Tom Nequete by VT-3 Training Aircraft Capt. Jim Shea and Capt. Tom Nequette standing in front of a training aircraft
Jim Shea Arlington Arlington Cemetery headstone
Nequette Wedding w Best Man Jim Shea Jim, just to the right of center, as the best man at Tom Nequette’s military wedding.
What Ever Happened to Company B? book cover Cover of Capt. Andrej Vaart's “What Ever Happened to Company B?”

From the 1966 NROTC yearbook Crown and Anchor, page 11:


The extent, if not the degree of Jim’s accomplishments within the Unit can be suggested by a listing. He is a member of the Drill Team, the CMSS, the Crown and Anchor Society, and almost every intramural athletic team. Jim has participated so actively in these organizations, that he has received a ribbon for his services in each. Outside of the Unit extracurriculars, he has the Professor of Naval Science Award, and the Reserve Officers Association Award. As a Marine Option, he felt it valuable to take paratroop training and so become airborne qualified the summer of his Quantico experience. Last, but not least, Jim led the Battalion of Columbia Midshipmen as their commander this year.

Honoring Jim Shea CC 1966

Remarks by Captain Andrej Vaart (USMC) at the Columbia Navy Commissioning Ceremony May 17, 2019:

(Having just been “piped aboard”) "Thank you. Let me just say that in four years on active duty as a Marine Officer and 26 years as a Navy Reserve Intelligence officer, I had never been piped aboard anything before today. Thank you for giving me this most treasured moment. And thank you Columbia and NROTC leadership teams for giving me this time to remember one of Columbia’s own, Captain James J. Shea II, USMC, who died in a training accident in 1972, after having survived the dangers of taking infantrymen like me into and out of dangerous places in the CH-46 helicopters he flew in Vietnam.

I grew up not far from here, and Columbia was a place of awe for me in the 50’s and 60’s. I didn’t know Jim in those years, but I know that for both of us, living in the height of Cold War times, military service beckoned. We both saw opportunity in the Navy ROTC program and passed the rigorous entry requirements. Though I would go to the University of Rochester, in 1966 we were both commissioned second lieutenants in the Corps.

With graduation, we began a journey of service and of relationships. We met for the first time as we checked into The Basic School for Marine Officers in Quantico, Virginia, and were assigned to B Company of TBS 1-67. Thus, began a 21-week program to learn to become Marine Corps officers.

In those days, as now, in the Marine Corps, every newly commissioned officer entered the basic school.

This is unique to the Corps—as other services send their new officers directly to specialized schools.

In Quantico we became students again, and under the tutelage of experienced officers and enlisted non-commissioned officers, we learned how to lead, both by learning how to follow and by learning how to take command under any peacetime or combat circumstance.

As we worked through those difficult 21 weeks, our group of 184 became comrades and brothers. Just before Thanksgiving we received our first assignments, secure in the knowledge we were ready to go to war and ready to lead.

All but one of our members did see combat in Vietnam. Twenty-one would die there or be lost, missing in action or die as a result of wounds afterward.

To honor those members of B Company, we have been presenting copies of a book we prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of comradeship in 2016. It is titled: Whatever Happened to B Company?: The “Official” TBS 1-67, B Company Cruise Book, 1966-2016.

It contains short biographies of more than 140 of our original members. Every member we could find has one or more. We have presented copies to 18 institutions in memory of those who studied at those institutions, and we have given copies to surviving family members of all 21. Saturday and next, we finish the task with trips to Brown and Harvard.

We hope for two things in the giving of this book.

  • First, we hope it will help keep alive the memory of Columbia classmate Jim Shea.
  • Second, we hope the book will demonstrate the ways in which the bonds of Marine Corps service are formed and flourish. And we hope the book will highlight the many potential futures that exist for those who served their country in uniform.

There is much more I could say about B Company and Jim, but I will leave that to future readers of the book and the letters from our class leaders and from Jim’s very best friend enclosed in each copy I will leave here. So, Dean (Jeffery) Kysar, may I ask you to join me. Please accept this book from the members of B Company of the Basic School Class 1-67, offered in memory of Captain James J. Shea II and with our very best of wishes to the three who will become Marine Corps officers today. Thank you and SEMPER FI.

The following are excerpts from the book:

  • James J. Shea II (1944—1972)
  • Year and Place of Birth: 1944, Dumont NJ
  • High School: Dumont High School, Dumont NJ, 1962
  • College: Columbia University, 1966
  • USMC Entry: NROTC
  • USMC Career: Flight School, CH-46 Pilot, MOS 7562, 1968; HMM-365 New River— Squadron Pilot 1968; HMM-164, Marble Mountain RVN, Squadron Pilot 1968; FAC, ROK Marines, Danang TAOR SVN, 1969; HMM -365 Tustin, Squadron Pilot 1970-72; Amphibious Warfare School, 1972; VT-22 Kingsville, Jet Transition Training, 1972.
  • Jim was killed in a TA-4J aircraft training accident on 22 November 1972. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; he left his widow, Barbara Bradford Shea, whom he married on 2 January 1967."

Remarks by Thomas Nequette on Jim Shea May 1, 2019:

"This is not a story of battle and glory but one of bonding and love; Jim Shea, or JJ, and I first met during that glorious Marine Option summer event in 1965 known as the “Bulldog Cruise” on the beautiful banks of the Potomac at Quantico. A singular memory in my life. Here we learned that the dog does truly shit in the woods. Jim returned to Columbia for his senior year as NROTC Battalion Commander. We reconnected at TBS and started spending some time together. Jim struck off for the mixers at Mary Washington College on the weekends and there met and fell in love with Barbara Bradford, a DAR and direct descendent of Capt. Bradford of the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrim fame. The relationship was fiery from the start; Jim was a stubborn, driven, pugnacious red headed Irishman from New Jersey. Barb, a driven, stubborn Presbyterian from Virginia. It was love at first fight.

Both of us struck for aviation and went off to Pensacola. There we became close friends. While he was yearning for Barbara, he was stuck with me. He loved deep discussions as did I. Good times. Once we blasted off in his 914 Porsche all the way to Fredericksburg, VA and back in three days so he could see Barb.

JJ and Barbara married in Falls Church, VA, in June 1967. It was a full military ceremony, and I was best man. Then back to Pensacola and a midget Airstream trailer. I met my wife at the Tiki Bar on Labor Day of 1967. Jim was my best man in February of 1968 in another full military ceremony.

All four of us ended up at New River for CH-46 transition until we both shipped out in late spring of 1968. JJ got clean sheets and sand free meals with the Special Landing Force. I was inland. Jim served as FAC for the ROK Marines during his tour. We managed to get together often and even got basket leave to Hong Kong.

We both got West Coast billets and spent many weekends together. I was an ALO at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton while he went to Santa Anna. Jim and Barbara are godparents for my son. It was a wonderful two years together.

My time in the Corps was up, Jim remained. He was selected for Amphibious Warfare School back at Quantico and graduated as Honor Man. He was granted fixed wing transition after graduation and set off to Texas. He and Barb stopped to visit us in Florida on their way out. He was as trim and strong as I had ever seen him. He was excited and remained determined as ever."


I remember the evening when he was the company commander and we were out on a double date. With nowhere to go for some privacy. Off to the Ward Room in Hartley Hall, where Jim cleared everyone out so our we and our dates could watch TV, among other things without interruption. The last contact we had was circa 1970 when he was stationed on the west coast and I was based at FMFLant in Norfolk. Too much time, such a waste, a great friend. Semper Fi
- Frank Pokorny

All these years I imagined Jim married, enjoying children and grandchildren. Every few years I checked the web but I did not remember his middle initial so I could not find him. So saddened to find out he never returned from Viet Nam. I feel especially sad for his parents and sister. I feel so disappointed for Jim. He deserved a real life not a small part of a life cut short by a fruitless war. He was a sweet fellow.
- Geraldine McCarthy Whittington

Is any of our information incorrect? You can submit corrections, additional photos, and/or tributes to