Hickory Township, PA
U.S. Army, Vietnam
Sp4 Jesse James Coon had a rare assignment in Vietnam. He was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company – to play in the division’s band. The 9th Division had a long tradition of bands in combat zone. They had one all the way back in World War II.
One might think that it would be a cushy assignment, away from the dangers that the 9th Division soldiers faced every day as part of the Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. But the Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Band received a Meritorious Unit Citation, not for playing good music, but for support of combat operations.
During one of these operations, on April 23, 1968, Sp4 Coon was riding in a military vehicle in the Mekong Delta. An enemy hand grenade thrown into the vehicle rolled under the driver’s seat. Sp4 Coon could have rolled out of the vehicle and saved himself. Instead, he grabbed the grenade and tried to throw it out of the vehicle. It exploded before he could do that. Sp4 Coon was killed, but the driver survived.
He was posthumously promoted to Sgt. E-5 and awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor.
Jesse was born in Sharon on August 30, 1947, to Billy Coon Jr. and Mrs. Anna Roman Coon. He attended Farrell High School, but graduated from Hickory High School in 1966. He worked for Sharon General Hospital, Cohen’s Store, and the General American Transportation Corp. before entering the service in October, 1966. His tour in Vietnam started on February 5, 1968.
Jesse left behind his father and stepmother, Julia H. Yourchisin Coon; three brothers, William, John and Richard; one sister, Mary Irene; and grandparents, Mrs. Marie Roman, New Wilmington, and Mr. and Mrs. Nick Yourchisin, Hickory Township.
A message posted on the Internet expressed the feelings of many who came back from Vietnam: “I remember Jesse in basic training. He was always making the rest of us laugh. I am very sorry he died so young. I served in Viet Nam too, and sometimes I feel guilty that I came home and so many didn’t.”
On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Panel 51E Line 37