Academy lauds hero from war in Vietnam

July 30, 1982, Jenny Tenpenny, The Daily news Journal

Heroism takes many forms especially on the battlefield, and one of Rutherford County’s most decorated Vietnam War heroes will be honor Saturday in ceremonies at the Tennessee Military Academy in Smyrna.

The honors for Army Captain James Timothy Luscinski come posthumously, 13 years after he was shot down and killed during a rescue mission in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

The highly decorated Luscinski, a graduate of TMA who volunteered for active duty during the height of the Vietnam War, will be honored by the 25th graduating class at the Academy in ceremonies at 10:30AM.

The Class, according to TMA instructor Major James Clayton, will present the school with a portrait of their distinguished predecessor, a helicopter pilot who died in October, 1969 while on a volunteer medevac rescue mission.

“He was a very sensitive person and was upset over the conditions in Vietnam,” recalled sister-in-law Shirly Luscinski. “He often wrote about how bad it was that the children were hungry and aoubt what they were going through.”

She described ‘Jimmy’ as a man who would have been willing to put his life on the line for others, regardless of the situation. “In fact when was killed, he had just returned from one mission and they asked for volunteers to go back out. He volunteered.”, she said.

But he was just that type of person, she explained “He felt it was his duty. he was 30 when he was commissioned and he didn’t even have to go. But he volunteered for duty.”

An adventurous man, he looked forward to challenge, even in everyday life – sky diving, scuba diving, always active, she said.

Luscinski wrote: “I guess Donna (his wife) told you about my Silver Star. I am very proud of that. I am sending it home as soon as I can get a box packed up. I also got my old Cobra shot down the fourth of August in the Ashau Valley. I wasn’t hurt or my co-pilot – thanks to the Luscinski cool. I lost my hydraulics due to the round and made a running emergency landing on an old abandoned fixed wing strip. I am being put up for the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), and it looks like I am a hero – not really.

“When you see 17 and 18 year-old kids get shot down, it motivates you to do everything you can to help these guys. It sure is a sad thing to see them hauled away in a bag with nothing but a tag on it. Sometimes you can’t help from shredding a tear or two.”

Luscinski enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard in 1958. he was commissioned a second lieutenant from the eight graduating class of TMA in 1965, and during his years of service received the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Valor, Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

When he graduated from TMA, he was assigned as a tactical officer and began active duty in July, 1968. He began his Vietnam tour of duty in June, 1969 and was killed in action on October 8, 1969, at the age of 30.

Luscinski was the son of Mr. and Mrs. M.R. Luscinski, who now live in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The Luscinskis owned and operated the Donut Depot on Lytle Street where he and his brothers, Larry, Robert, Joel, Gene, Mark and sister Betty, worked.

“The family is very close to one another and this presentation means a great deal to everyone,” Mrs. Luscinski said. All the family members have returned to Murfreesboro for the Saturday presentation.

All the Luscinski men have been in service. Two of them were in the Navy when their brother was shot down. Mark, who is a senior at MTSU, is in ROTC and “says he’s going into the Army after graduation,’ Mrs. Luscinski said.

“They are just that kind of family and to have Jimmy honored like this is a very special occasion and makes us all proud,” she said.

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