The Inspiring Story of Thomas James Kinsman

Thomas James Kinsman (March 4, 1945 – May 15, 2017) was a United States Army soldier whose extraordinary heroism during the Vietnam War earned him the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor. His selfless act of bravery, which saved the lives of his fellow soldiers, stands as a testament to his courage and dedication. This blog delves into the life of Thomas James Kinsman, from his early struggles to his post-war career, highlighting the defining moments that shaped his legacy.

Early Life and Struggles: Thomas James Kinsman was born on March 4, 1945, in Renton, Washington. He spent his formative years in Onalaska, Washington, before moving to Toledo, Washington. Kinsman's early life was marked by the typical challenges of growing up in a small town, but these experiences helped forge his resilience and determination. Despite the obstacles, Kinsman pursued his education with a steadfast commitment, attending high school in Onalaska.

Military Enlistment and Heroics: In 1967, at the age of 22, Kinsman enlisted in the United States Army from Seattle, Washington. His decision to join the military was driven by a sense of duty and a desire to serve his country during a time of conflict. By February 6, 1968, he was serving as a Private First Class in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, actively participating in Operation Coronado X in the Republic of Vietnam.

Defining Moment: The defining moment of Kinsman's military career occurred during a fierce firefight near Vinh Long, Vietnam. On that fateful day, his company came under intense enemy fire from a well-entrenched Viet Cong force. Amidst the chaos and heavy gunfire, Kinsman and a group of eight soldiers became separated from the main company. As they navigated through dense undergrowth, an enemy soldier threw a grenade into their midst. Without hesitation, Kinsman shouted a warning to his comrades and threw himself onto the grenade, absorbing the explosion with his body. His actions saved the lives of the seven other men in his group but left him with severe head and chest wounds.

Post-War Life and Career: After recovering from his injuries, Kinsman was promoted to Specialist Four and awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor. In 1971, he married Deloris Binion, and the couple settled in Toledo, Washington, where they raised seven children. Kinsman transitioned to a quieter life, dedicating himself to farming and his family. His post-war years were marked by the same dedication and resilience that had defined his military service.

Military Awards and Decorations: Thomas James Kinsman's extraordinary bravery was recognized with the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. His official citation highlighted his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." This prestigious award reflected the profound impact of his actions on that February day in Vietnam, underscoring his commitment to his fellow soldiers and his country.

Conclusion: Thomas James Kinsman's life story is one of courage, selflessness, and unwavering dedication. From his humble beginnings in Washington to his heroic actions on the battlefield and his peaceful post-war life, Kinsman's legacy serves as an enduring inspiration. His willingness to sacrifice his own life to save others exemplifies the highest ideals of military service and heroism. As we remember his remarkable journey, we honor not only his bravery but also the enduring spirit of those who serve their country with distinction.

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