Honoring Our Heroes
July 1, 2023 | View PDF
Lieutenant Commander James Malcolm Levy: Age 75
Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) James Malcolm Levy served 20 years in the U.S. Navy. His designation after commissioning was as a Naval Aviator. During his service he had many administrative duties including flight instructor, Operations Officer and Executive Officer. He received the following medals, decorations and awards: Navy Expedition Medal (three awards), Navy Unit Commendation (two awards), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (three awards), Navy Battle “E” Award, Navy Recruiting Service Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Medal (four awards), Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, National Defense Medal, Expert Pistol Shot Medal, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (three awards).
LCDR Levy was born November 9, 1947 at San Antonio, TX, to his parents, Louis and Sarah Levy. In 1966, he graduated from Texas Military Institute, a high school his grandfather helped found and where his father taught. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy June 3, 1970.
Following a life-time dream of becoming a pilot, LCDR Levy completed training and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1972. LCDR Levy trained in the T-34B, and the T-28. In addition to its training duties, the T-28 was actively utilized in the Vietnam War by the U.S. and South Vietnamese Air Force as the T-28D Nomad, which was equipped to carry a variety of weapons ranging from bombs and rockets to napalm for use on counter insurgency missions throughout Southeast Asia. Because he wanted to serve as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, he then completed four to five months of training at Ellyson Field, FL. While there, he trained in the Bell Jet Ranger (the H-57) and the H-1 (Huey). Ellyson Field served as the sole facility for beginning and intermediate training for flying rotary-wing aircraft for the U.S. Navy.
LCDR Levy’s first assignment after his training was in California. After completing his qualifying in the SH-3G at HS-10, he was assigned to HC-1, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron One at NAS Imperial Beach, CA, where he received further training in the H-3 helicopter, a twin engine, all weather helicopter. He was assigned to a detachment serving onboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61), a Forrestal-class super carrier and the first to be built with an angled deck. He served on this ship for eight months flying the H-3 helicopter. Upon returning from his Vietnam cruise aboard the USS Ranger, he was temporarily assigned to Det Skylab. This detachment was assigned to the USS New Orleans, an LPH- IWO Jima-class amphibious assault ship, operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was involved in making two astronaut recovery missions. Next, he served one year with HC-1 Det 2 stationed at NAF Atsugi, Japan. When deployed, Det 2 was part of CVW 5, the carrier airwing assigned to USS Midway (CVA-41). The USS Midway was the first in a three-ship class of large carriers that featured an armored flight deck and a powerful air group of 120 planes and the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. While serving on the Midway, he participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975. During the evacuation, his squadron flew Vietnamese fleeing for their lives from the Midway to other ships. He returned to NAS Whiting Field, FL, as a flight instructor in the T-28 for three years. While a flight instructor, he met and married his wife, Margaret, a year later. On his next tour, he again completed training at HS-10 at NAS North Island at San Diego, CA, where he was retrained in the H-3 helicopter. He served three years attached to HC-1 Det 2 deploying once again onboard the USS Midway. He then returned to his hometown, San Antonio. TX. He served as a Navy recruiter for 2.5 years and was appointed as the Executive Officer during his last year there.
LCDR Levy then returned to NAS North Island at San Diego, CA. This time he was to train as a pilot of the C-12 Huron, a military version of an executive passenger and transport aircraft based on the Beech Model 200 Super King Air. It is primarily used by the US Air Force, US Navy, US Army and US Marine Corps for several functions, including range clearance, embassy support, medical evacuation, VIP transport, passenger and light cargo transport. The C-12 Huron, powered by a twin-engine turboprop engines, accommodates a crew of three including a pilot, co-pilot, enlisted aircrewman and seven passengers or 5,000 lb. of cargo.
Next, LCDR Levy was stationed at NAS Cubi Point, Philippines flying the C-12 to various locations in WestPac. This area includes predominantly the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan. His last duty station was at NAS Corpus Christi, TX, where he retired June 30, 1990 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
After his retirement from military service, he worked 20 years as a pilot for UPS. He flew the DC-8 enjoying both domestic and international routes, retiring in 2009. He and his wife, Margaret, have been married 47 years, and they have two children and three grandchildren. They are members of Frazer Church at Montgomery, AL, where he currently serves as a substitute Sunday school teacher. He has been a Sunday school teacher at several other churches. He is a member of Chapter 607 Vietnam Veterans of America and is a member of the Presentation Team.
LCDR Levy’s conclusions about his Naval military service are: “I had always wanted to serve my country. While attending high school at Texas Military Institute, I was offered appointments at both West Point and the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, as well as many civilian colleges. Helping me make my best decision was my Sunday School teacher who was a Naval Academy graduate and served briefly as a Naval aviator, attended law school and became a federal judge. Rescuing folks who found themselves in the water for one reason or another had to be the most fulfilling part of my career. Having been blessed by God with the ability to fly diverse aircraft in diverse places and interacting with diverse nationalities, I received so much from my Naval service. It was an honor to serve my country, and my country gave me something back for it.
LCDR Levy states, “ I would like people to remember me as a stubborn, hard-headed and caring Christian man.”