JAY T. KIMBROUGH
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Jay T. Kimbrough was born in
in 1947 and he grew up there, attending public schools in South Oak Cliff.
Cloyde Pinson, Jr. was one of his friends
throughout his Junior High and High School years and he was close to the
Jay was in
High School’s Class
of 1966, but; he had accumulated enough credits to graduate by mid-term, so
he left high school early and enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1966.
He was inducted into the service on
February 23, 1966 and went through Boot Camp at
He was still only eighteen
years old when he arrived in
in August 1966 and was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines.
He was an M-60 machine
gunner nine months into his tour when he was severely wounded and medically
evacuated back to the United States.
It happened this way.
On May 10, 1967, during Operation
“Union 1,” elements of the 5th Marines, (including Company D, 1st Battalion,
in which Cloyde Pinson, Jr. was serving), were heavily engaged with a large
force of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops in the Que Son Valley
about 40 kilometers west of Tam Ky in Quang Tin Province.
Jay’s platoon was a quick reaction force, flown
in to reinforce; but they arrived in a “hot” Landing Zone.
The helicopter Jay was on was shot down about
500 meters short, and Jay was wounded and losing a lot of blood. Luckily, a
Corpsman happened to be on that aircraft and he stopped the bleeding, at
least he stopped it well enough that Jay didn’t bleed to death. The
survivors remained under intense small arms and automatic weapons fire, and
were unable to move.
Only the Platoon Sergeant, Jimmie L.
West, with less than half of the platoon had been inserted safely into the
landing zone, and he would later receive the Silver Star for what he did
First, he organized what few men he had and led them to
the successful relief of the survivors of the other half of the platoon.
Those men had landed under heavy fire and were
pinned down less than 75 meters from an entrenched enemy force.
Later, and only because the sound of weapons
firing continued to come from that direction, the sergeant became aware of
where Jay’s helicopter had gone down.
Sgt West picked up a machine gun and moved out
through heavy enemy fire until he reached Jay and the Corpsman and then
covered them on the way back, delivering suppressive fire as the Corpsman
brought Jay into the relative safety of the LZ perimeter.
Approximately three to four hours had elapsed
since he had been wounded. Had it not been for Jimmie West, Jay would not
have gotten out alive.
In fact, against all odds, Jimmie West had saved
many men’s lives that day.
Jay Kimbrough was flown out to the
hospital ship, USS Sanctuary, for treatment.
Meanwhile, Operation “Union 1” continued and on
May 12th, Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines engaged a huge NVA force and
initially suffered high casualties.
Among them, Cloyde Pinson, Jr. was killed in
Jay was medically evacuated back home
to Texas, to the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station Hospital, and he was a
patient there for his remaining eight months in service.
The Pinson family buried
their son Cloyde Jr. in a
Dallas area cemetery and they came
to visit Jay in the hospital in Corpus Christi.
Jay also remembers being in the hospital in September when Hurricane Bulah
hit the Texas
coast doing great damage. Jay Kimbrough was discharged from the Marine Corps
on February 23, 1968 and returned home to
He first started back to school,
attending night classes in a local Junior College.
Later, while benefiting from the G.I. Bill, he
graduated with a BBA from Southern Methodist University.
He next earned a degree in law from South Texas
College of Law and then served in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps
from 1978 to 1982.
Since leaving the military service he
has continued to add to an impressive career record.
Listed here are most, but by no means all of the
positions that he has held, in succession beginning in 1982.
Assistant District Attorney for the 156th District of
Executive Director, Texas Commission on Private Security.
Executive Director, Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Executive Director of the Governor’s Criminal Justice
Division, Office of the Governor of Texas.
Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor of
Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, Office
of the Attorney General of Texas.
Director, Office of Homeland Security, Office of the
Governor of Texas.
Deputy General Counsel, The
Conservator, Texas Youth Commission.
Deputy Chancellor and General Counsel, The Texas A&M
University System, and finally,
Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor of Texas, which
position he currently holds at this writing.
Motivated primarily because there was no National
Cemetery anywhere near North
Texas when the body of his son had been brought home for burial from
Cloyde Pinson, Sr. took upon himself a project to have one created there and
together with Congressman Martin Frost they were successful.
Cemetery opened in
On April 12, 2006 the remains of Cloyde Pinson, Jr.
were reinterred there.
Jay is a member of the “Patriot Guard Riders”
and when that day came the governor gave him approval, in fact ordered Jay
to go, so he rode with the group in motorcycle escort taking Cloyde Jr. to
his final resting place in the
Two days later, Cloyde Pinson, Sr., founder of
the Texas National Cemetery Foundation, had a knee replacement operation,
and to the great shock of all who knew what he had just been through, he
died just hours after the surgery.
Father and son are buried together in the
cemetery that the father had brought into being.
Sadly, 2006 didn’t get any better for Jay Kimbrough.
The platoon sergeant that
saved his life, Jimmie West, was seriously wounded in later combat and had
also been hospitalized at
before Jay was discharged.
Years passed and Jimmie had become the Chief of
Police in Madisonville,
Jay took his first
position with the Texas A&M University System in 2006 and moved to College Station,
partly because it was close by and it would be easy for the two of them to
But, it didn’t work out that way, in June 2006
Jimmie died after being bitten by a copperhead snake.
Jay Kimbrough insists that the most important part of his Vietnam
story is in honoring the sacrifice of his friend Cloyde Pinson, Jr., the
Pinson family, and the heroic actions of Jimmie West, the platoon sergeant
that saved his life on his last day in Company A.
He has been a member of Chapter
1919 since transferring here from the chapter in
Corpus Christi in 1997 and
this month PATRIOT BULLETIN proudly salutes Patriot Jay Kimbrough.