James Bascom Wilkinson
1930 - 2017
{ "" }
Share
Share James's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Lt Col. James Bascom Wilkinson, ( USMC, ret ) 87, passed away peacefully at home in Dallas, Texas of complications from Congestive Heart Failure on December 1, 2017.

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 28, 1930 to Fay and John Wilkinson, he joined the Marine Corps at 18, later graduating from the University of Alabama while in the service. Serving in the Vietnam War as an Infantry Battalion Commander during 1967-68, he survived the deadly Khe Sanh siege and was later featured in the oral history book, "Khe Sanh: Siege in the Clouds", and in David Douglas Duncan's book, "War Without Heroes." He was honored with the Legion of Merit with Combat V for his distinguished services while in combat with the enemy in Khe Sanh.

After retiring at 39 as a Lt. Colonel and moving to Hilton Head Island, he became a Financial Consultant in the Savannah offices of Merrill Lynch. He subsequently held Merrill Lynch management positions in Dallas, Charleston and Memphis where he served on the Memphis Symphony Board, the Theater Board, as President of the Arts Appreciation Council and Junior Warden of the Calvary Episcopal Church. After retiring in 1995, he and his wife Nancy lived first on Hilton Head Island, where he served as a board member and driver for Meals on Wheels, before settling for many years in Cashiers, North Carolina, where he served a term of President of the Sheep Laurel Homeowners Association and was a member of the vestry for the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Preceded in death by his son-in-law, Chip Thompson. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Wilkinson; his daughters, Sabra Thompson and Shannon Wilkinson, Catherine McCarthy and husband Chuck, son, Dwight Emanuelson, Jr., and wife Claire and 6 grandchildren, James Marion, Ashley Shannon and Sabra Elizabeth Thompson, Hillis Emanuelson and wife Lindsey, James Emanuelson and Charles K. McCarthy, Jr.

He was an avid reader and writer for The Marine Corp Gazette and The Leatherneck He had a special appreciation for the Marine Corps and remained in close touch with his many Vietnam troops long after the war ended. "My decision to join the Marine Corps was a very wise move by a young Mississippi lad," he once commented, recalling that after going through new recruit training in 1948 his monthly income was approximately $96.00.

A Memorial Service will take place at 11:00 am December 8, 2017 at The Church of the Incarnation 3966 McKinney Ave, Dallas . TX

Memorials may be made to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall .

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Savannah Morning News on Dec. 3, 2017.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
DEC
8
Memorial service
11:00 AM
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
16 entries
February 14, 2018
Please accept my heart felt condolences on your loss. I served with Col Wilkinson during part of his tour in Khe Sahn as one of his battalion radio operators. He was one of the best officers I served under. Our family sends our prayers. May God comfort you.
George Thompson
January 4, 2018
•Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Semper Fidelis
Bob Allen
December 30, 2017
Gentleman Jim, Our Eagle

An Eagle fell from the sky today and the sun stood still.
The shrill wind howled in the clear blue sky,
as heavy mist fogged the eye. Some wondered why
til the message arrived, then many silently cried.
The wires rang with sadness and sorrow
as the much feared word went forth,
"Gentleman Jim," our Eagle,
was now outward bound from this earth.

We who spent our life there 50 year ago or more,
stood rock steady as we started to recall.
Quigley's voice resoundingly strong
while he and Doc C locked an eye.
Mac sounded off with a message so loud
that it cleared to the azure sky
"Black Bud 6 sends his respects, Sir,
and requests your presense soonest;
don't bother bringing your gear."

On the eve of our Commanders passing,
just a few short days ago
in the stillness of the mid-watch,
where some Marines are want go!
Twas then our Eagle went swooping
down as the word went quickly about,
"The Eagle was out!" Where
nothing escaped his sharp glances or sharper eye.
Neither did deserving Marines escape
a heartfelt thanks as he moved on down the line.

In the later years when asked
by those not privileged to be there
What did you learn from your Commander, Lad,
that was held so close and dear?
The answer to that one was easy,
"That when in the company of your Marines
and killing times are near, nothing is
more important than not outwardly showing fear!

And so, what we all learned
from this impressive man,
was to righteously understand,
that the fortunes of war may wobble a bit,
but to Marines, the mission is first
and if you fall while in the attack
you will not be left behind.
Your mates will have your back.
Care deeply for your Marines, remembering if you do,
they will fix bayonets, sling their packs and follow you.
How well I remember, as I was dismissed---
thinking, I have just been shown the way.
Things might be looking up
for our blessed Nation and her Warriors on this day.

Gentleman Jim's Marine heritage was born and bred
deep in the South. His nickname "Gentleman Jim" deceived,
cause like the Eagle, he moved swiftly about,
going forward of the battle line when the guns were swung around.
Thus, his Eagle eyes and attitude kept many of us alive.

So, as he now speeds outbound
to assume his last command,
where he will link up with David,
that Lion of a Man,
there they will each hold
til our last wave touches down.
So hold tight Colonels Dave and Jim;
for Charlie and the Gunny are moving
fast to meet you and they are almost there.
Bravo and the Captain,
with the squads of Jake, Mike and Wiese.
The Doc, Britt, and Rash,
with the rest following in trace.

On the high ground our flag will be planted
as we rest at Fiddlers Green
where we will be awaiting the landing
of the next wave of battle scarred Marines.

It is time to shut this down, now.
It all seems like an endless dream.
As we scan the ranks and read the Clay
it becomes patiently clear this day
it won't be long until we will have more men
there than we have here!
We miss each of our brothers, but know it won't be long
til we muster to share a few rounds of beer
with "Gentleman Jim" our Eagle!


Ken Pipes, Assisted/Advised by:

Major Larry Luther (881), Sergeant Major Morris (USMC), Sergeant Mike O'Hara (Bravo), Corporal Ken Rodgers (Bravo), and Lieutenant Derek Clark, San Diego Sheriff's Department (Ret)
Ken Pipes
Military
December 6, 2017
May the Wilkinson family find peace in the passing on of this fine man and respected leader of Marines. I was honored when he wrote an article in Leatherneck magazine and included me as Cpl Bruce "T-Bone" Jones. He regularly called at Christmas and it was a wonderful gesture to do that for me. He was and remains "Gentleman Jim" to all Khe Sanh siege veterans. He was our Commander under very difficult combat and he kept every man in his command as safe as possible. I am very sad of his passing and will miss him greatly. At our 50 year reunion in D.C. this year we will toast our leader and remember him fondly. Love and Respect; Semper Fi! Bruce "T-Bone" Jones
December 6, 2017
I am so sad to hear this news. I have fond memories of Jim and Nancy. I was fortunate to work with him in Memphis. My heartfelt sympathy to Nancy and the family. He was a great man.
Wanda Chamberlin Lyle
wanda Lyle
December 6, 2017
Dear Nancy,Catherine, Dwight and family - Jim was always a role model for Annie,our daughters Anne Marie,Claire and Jennifer as well as myself. He was an outstanding gentleman and loyal Marine. We feel blessed to have known him over the past 30 years and will forever be in his debt for his unselfish 21 years of service to his country.

Love,Dick,Claire and by proxy,Annie,Anne Marie and Jennifer
Richard Stephens
December 6, 2017
I knew Jim as a manager of Merrill Lynch in Memphis, TN. I am very sorry to hear of his passing. He was very well respected and liked in our office and community. My heart felt sympathy to his family. Men like him make this a better place.
Seldon Murray
December 5, 2017
We know Jim was a remarkable man. Nancy, Catherine, Dwight, Claire and family, our deepest sympathy during this time of loss. Sincerely, Jeff and Angela Enright
Angela Enright
December 5, 2017
Sir,
I did not know you, but I know of you through the fine Marines and Corpsmen that served under you. You and your fine men are all heroes! May God Bless you and your family for eternity. A Sharp Hand Salute to you for all of your yesterday's!
Semper Fidelis,
Grady Birdsong
December 3, 2017
Nancy,
Your Savannah friends remember you and send prayers and sympathy.
Mimi Cay
December 2, 2017
While I did not have the good fortune to serve with Colonel Wilkinson, I met him through the Khe Sanh Veterans. It was a passing acquaintance, but he taught me some powerful lessons that I have and will always remember. God bless you Sir. Thank you for being the gentleman and leader we needed. ~~ Semper Fidelis!!!
Larry McCartney
December 2, 2017
Jim was a wise, compassionate & strong leader. I am honored to have served under him at Khe Sanh. I extend my condolences to his entire family hoping they find some comfort in knowing how respected Jim was as a combat commander in one of if not the biggest, fiercest battle of the Vietnam War.
Bill Gay
December 2, 2017
I was a Marine Reserve officer who served three years on active duty (1965-1968). After six months at the Officer's Basic School, I spent my next two and one half years with Marine infantry FMF units. I commanded an infantry platoon and two different infantry companies (G-2/2, D-1/26) for five different infantry battalion commanders.
I served with Lt. Col. Jim Wilkinson at Khe Sanh (1967 and 1968) as one of his four infantry company commanders for seven months. In mid February 1968 I became Lt. Col. Wilkinson S-2 (intelligence officer). Jim Wilkinson in my opinion is not only the finest battalion commander I ever knew, but also the finest Marine. Period.
Ernie Spencer Walnut Creek, CA
December 2, 2017
Respectful and loyal to all regardless of rank. Truly one of the great Marine corps leaders.
Joe Falduti
December 2, 2017
I am truly shocked and heartbroken by this recent news of LtCol Wilkinson's passing. Known by all within the Khe Sanh Veterans Assoiation as "Gentleman Jim" he was at all times an inspiration to those of us who were so fortunate to have known him. I first met him in 1968 as a young Marine in his charge. I can assure all who have known him throughout his life he was a highly respected combat leader who always put the welfare of his men ahead of all other considerations. A true "Marine's Marine." My personal experience came much later in life while serving as VP of the Khe Sanh Veterans Association.
Jim became my mentor and confidant. He never refused my calls and I learned much from his advice and council. He was a true friend for sure. I will miss his calls on 10 November wishing me a Happy Marine Corps Birthday. The last time we talked his concern was only for his Nancy. We will still have and will continue to keep her in our prayers. SEMPER FIDELIS brave Warrior.
Michael E. O'Hara
December 2, 2017
Please know so very many of us were deeply saddened and still feel the impact of the loss of such a great man and a proven Battle Leader of Marines. He exemplifies to all of us the gold standard of Battle leadership. Much of my life since Khe Sanh and that of others with whom I served still consider our Colonel as our Role Model. He has now joined Doctor Ed Feldman, USMC, Medical Corps and the much respected LtCol. Freddie Jay at Fiddlers Green as they establish the new Command Post and await the arrival of the rest of us knuckle Heads. We will get our assignments to Post,#1 at the gate and be back in business. And so our Col. on behalf of Bravo Company: Attention on Deck, Hand Salute, and in HIS Holy Name, SEMPER FIDELIS. Ready,too. Sir, Reinforcement are in route.
Ken Pipes
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences