Obituary for James Joseph Lindsay of Vass

An all-American soldier, General James Joseph Lindsay passed away Sunday, August 6, 2023 after battling dementia and declining health in recent years. He faced this final chapter of his storied life with the same determination that he exhibited throughout his amazing military career.

Growing up during the depression, he learned the value of hard work and determination working various jobs after school since he was nine years old.  He enlisted in the Army as a private and retired as a four-star general. He would have turned 91 October 10th if his body could have kept up with his strong will to live and be with his beloved wife Gerry Lindsay. They met at the Fort Bragg Officers Club when he was a young lieutenant and she was a bookkeeper at Pope Air Force base. “Can I have this dance?” is what he asked her then, and what he wrote in 68 anniversary cards since then.  Gerry was the only woman he ever loved and he was the only man she ever loved.

After a year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, he ran out of money and enlisted in the Army, thinking he would finish college on the G-I Bill after leaving military service. His plans changed when he realized that the military life agreed with him, so he applied to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, GA.

After completing OCS, Lindsay served as a platoon leader and other positions in the 82nd Airborne Division and 77th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.  He then performed intelligence work in Berlin, Germany before returning to Fort Bragg, where he commanded B Company 1/503rd Infantry among other assignments.  He then served his first tour in Vietnam as an advisor to the Vietnamese Airborne.  His time with them included two combat jumps where he jumped in as a pathfinder to mark drop zones for Vietnamese airborne operations. After this tour, Lindsay completed college in the Army’s “Bootstrap” program and returned to Vietnam, where he commanded 2nd Battalion, 60th Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.  It was during this assignment that he received the Distinguished Service Cross—our nation’s second highest award for valor in combat.  He left Vietnam as one of our nation’s most highly decorated soldiers.  His career awards included the previously mentioned Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, four Silver Stars for valor in combat, four Bronze Stars for valor in combat, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Ranger Tab, and Special Forces Tab.

After Vietnam and assignments to the Pentagon, National War College, and the Military Assistance Group in Thailand, he returned to Fort Bragg where he commanded 3rd Brigade of the 82nd, served as Chief of Staff and Assistant Division Commander of the 82nd, and Chief of Staff of XVIII Airborne Corps.  He then commanded the VI Readiness Region at Fort Knox before once again returning to Fort Bragg to command the 82nd Airborne Division.  He was then selected to command the Infantry School and Fort Benning.  As Commandant of the Infantry School, his top priority was to find a replacement for the shoulder fired Dragon anti-tank missile.  This replacement eventually became the highly successful Javelin anti-tank missile. 

After Fort Benning, he returned to Fort Bragg to command XVIII Airborne Corps.  Lindsay spent a total of five years in command of the 82nd and XVIII Airborne Corps and constantly worked to improve training and readiness and soldiers’ lives.  Upon turning over the Corps, he was promoted to four-star General and became the first commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command where he spent four years working to improve the training, integration, and support of Special Operations units in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  These efforts were put to the test during Operation Just Cause–the Panama invasion–in 1989.

General Lindsay was well known for both his physical fitness and leading by example.  He completed several marathons, including the Boston Marathon; as a colonel, he once ran four miles in a protective mask carrying an M-60 machine gun; he made over 500 parachute jumps in the Army, dove with Navy Seals, and bumped into numerous soldiers in the middle of the night on the drop zones and training areas of Fort Bragg and other posts while observing their training.

After retiring from the Army in 1990, Jim (as he was called by friends and family) became a Senior Mentor for the Army’s Battle Command Training Program.  He spent the next 18 years helping train and mentor the Army’s corps, division and brigade leadership teams including both active duty and National Guard units.  He also worked tirelessly to help create the Airborne and Special Operations Museum (ASOM) in Fayetteville.  Never one to sit still very long, he also found time to travel and spend time with his family—enjoying many great times with Gerry, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren at Woodlake, Holden Beach, the Caribbean, Mexico and Panama.

Jim was the loving husband of Geraldine (Gerry) Parker Lindsay.  He was the father of Steven Lindsay (wife Nadean), Michael Lindsay (wife Nancy Johnson), Kevin Lindsay (wife Lesa), and Barbara Jacon (husband Paul).  He is also survived by his brothers Pat and Dennis and his sister Colleen Robinson and his five grandchildren:  Brittany, Wayne, Evan, Lindsay, and Tyler and great – grandchild Aven.  He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Mary Lindsay; brothers Phil and Joey; sisters Molly and Sharon; grandchildren Erin and Michael and great – grandchild Nicholas.

A memorial ceremony will be held Saturday, September 9th, 11:00 am at the Main Post Chapel, 1-1510 Sedgewick St. Fort Liberty, NC 28307 with interment at the Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery, Spring Lake, NC; The Main Post Cemetery is very close and not to be confused with the Sandhill’s State Veterans Cemetery also in Spring Lake, NC.  A Celebration of Life will follow from 3:30 to 6:00 pm at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, 100 Bragg Blvd., Fayetteville, NC.  The family will receive friends at Boles Funeral Home, 425 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Southern Pines, on Friday, Sept. 8th from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m.  A pass will be required to enter Fort Liberty (formerly known as Fort Bragg) for the memorial ceremony.  Please contact Maj. Matt Visser at 254-702-6464 or [email protected] to request access to the installation for the memorial ceremony.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Cumberland Community Foundation for the General (Ret) James J. Lindsay Memorial Endowment for the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation, PO Box 2345, Fayetteville, NC 28302 or online at

Online condolences may be made at

Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.

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