James 'Jim' Henry Sillman
James "Jim" Henry Sillman was born Feb. 25, 1949, to William "Bill" and Elizabeth Sillman in Winona. He was a member and alter boy of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Winona, and he was an Eagle Scout.
Upon graduating from Winona High School in 1967, Jim enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp. After basic training, he attended electronics school in San Diego, and cable systems technician school at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Jim deployed as a Field Radio Operator within infantry units and served two combat tours in Vietnam. SGT Sillman received an honorable discharge Nov. 11, 1971.
Jim returned to his hometown after his military service where he attended Winona State University while working full time and supporting a growing family. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in business and economics.
In May 1977, Jim again answered the call to active duty when he became a Submarine Supply Corp Officer in the U.S. Navy. Jim was commissioned as an Ensign after graduating the Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He subsequently completed the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga., and the Naval Submarine School training in Groton, Conn., earning his Dolphins.
Jim served two tours in Holy Loch, Scotland - a country he forever remembered for its natural beauty and its most famous export. Jim was also ordered to Charleston, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; and Pascagoula, Miss., where he maintained oversight for Naval ship and submarine repair and new project shipbuilding.
His final sea duty assignment was aboard the USS La Salle (AFG-3) in support of Operation Desert Storm. During this deployment the ship assumed the responsibility of commanding and coordinating the multinational Maritime Intercept Force.
Jim twice militarily served his Country with distinction. Once a Marine, always a Marine; he forever remained proud of his service. He seldom spoke of his wartime experiences. Among the many personal and unit meritorious citations earned for sustained excellence, Jim was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal w/V; reserved for those individuals who clearly exceed expectations while exposed to personal hazard due to direct hostile action. LCDR Sillman retired from the U.S. Navy March 1, 1993, after serving his last tour of duty in Arlington, Va.
In his "retirement," Jim once again served his nation for over two decades as a civilian contractor, supporting shipbuilding projects under the Naval Sea Systems Command. When Jim was thanked for his 45 years of service to our country, which included multiple relocations and deployments away from his family, Jim humbly replied that many more military and civilian government personnel had made the ultimate sacrifice.
An avid reader and history buff, Jim enjoyed model building, visiting historical sites, and researching his family's genealogy. Through his research he was able to connect with distant relatives and share family history.
James Henry Sillman devoted his life to his God, Country, and family. He passed away Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021.
He is survived by his bride of 30 years, Diane (White) Sillman; his children, Joshua (Lizel) Sillman, Jennifer Sillman (Roger) Bates, Jeffrey (Marla) Sillman, and Hannah Sillman; 11 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; brother, Fred Sillman; sister, Mary Sillman (Mark) Hunn; cousin, Laurie Holley; and beloved pets, Mia and Molly. He was preceded in death by his parents, William "Bill" Theodore Sillman, Mary Elizabeth (James) Sillman; and brother, William "Bill" Theodore Sillman II.
Interment will be with full military honors at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.