James Heimbold — Duty, Honor, Country
Veteran’s Day remembrance …
For those who don’t know the Heimbold family of Monmouth Beach — you should. They’ve done a lot of meaningful things for the town and the nation. Their story is profound and lasting.
Monmouth Beach native James Reeve Heimbold was the only borough resident to be killed in action during the Vietnam War. Clearly, Jim Heimbold was a man with impact.
My word, the town’s main baseball field is named for the guy (dedicated at Griffin Park in June 1972). While unique in Monmouth Beach, he was among nearly 100 heroic Monmouth County residents (and about 1,500 from NJ) to fall in that long military and political conflict in Southeast Asia. Jim died in a helicopter crash during a military mission three weeks before Christmas 1970. At the time, he was assigned to the 6th Battalion, 14th Field Artillery regiment.
Overall, some 58,000 US military service personnel died and 303,000 were wounded during the war which lasted from 1959 to 1975. A captain in the US Army at the time, Jim was only 27 and left a young wife, Yvonne, and baby daughter, Heather.
“Freedom isn’t free.”
Each year since 1972 the Monmouth Beach School has presented an important community award to an 8th grade student — the Captain James R. Heimbold Memorial Award for Citizenship. Jim graduated from the school in June 1957 and his class inspired and developed the honor, led by his devoted classmate, Bev Bradley McClave. The first Heimbold Award recipient was Elizabeth Schaffer and members of the Rise, Visco, Jones, West and McConville families have twice received this much-prized award.
Born a proud son of New Jersey in February 1943, Jim graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School in 1961 and attended Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. His family included his twin brother, Joseph, Jr. and sister, Jeanne. His parents, Joseph and Jeanne, moved to Monmouth Beach in 1943 and raised their family on Shorelands. A marketing idea man supreme, Mr. Heimbold, Sr., developed the ground-breaking “tiger in your tank” slogan and ad campaign for Exxon gas in the 1960s.
A career soldier, Captain Heimbold entered the US Army in 1966 and graduated as an outstanding trainee from the Officer Candidate School at the Army Artillery and Missile Center at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. For his service as a battery commander, Captain Heimbold was decorated with the Bronze Star, the US Army Commendation Medal, and a Purple Heart.
“Jim was a guy who never let you down,” said his older sister, Jeanne Boehles, a former teacher and borough resident who now presents his award during annual graduation exercises in Monmouth Beach. “He was an extraordinary human being. To this day I miss him so very much. Citizenship was very important to Jim. And I never saw him lose his temper with another person. So many people loved him and gravitated to him.”
Jeanne said that her brother would be very proud of his daughter, who is today a mother of two sons and a teacher (and an Alaska resident). “She’s really a chip off the old block — a very strong and decent person,” Jeanne explained. “Jim left a very fine legacy.”
His twin, Joseph L., Jr., (a former MB School board member and candidate for US Congress in 1976) also served in the military with honor — seeing combat action in Southeast Asia before his brother did. For the dangerous duties of a forward observer, Joe was decorated with a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for valor. He also holds a Master’s Degree in economics from Northeastern University.
Make the trip: Jim Heimbold’s name is located on Panel 6W, Line 106 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. Visit and pay your respects. It’s worth it. Also visit the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial & Museum in nearby Holmdel — which “recognizes the sacrifices, courage and valor of Vietnam Veterans.” Here’s the website.
• Shorelands of Monmouth Beach: History & Photos — HERE