Jim’s tour of duty began on March 12, 1968. He served with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. The Marines of 3/7 had just moved from An Hoa to an area to the southwest, designated as “Dodge City” in Quang Nam Province. Two days later, on July 28, 1968, while his Unit was on a company-sized sweep, they walked into an L-shaped ambush. According to his Platoon Sergeant Joaquin ‘Guam’ Tuncap, Jim was carrying the PRC-25 radio that day. When the ambush was sprung by the North Vietnamese Army, a machine gunner in the squad was killed instantly. LCPL Dave Highfield, also a member of the squad, last saw Jim pick up the downed machine gun and head toward the enemy. In his attempt to lay down a base of fire, to protect his fellow Marines, he was Killed In Action. He had been in Vietnam less than five months. .
Jim’s awards include the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm, Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 stars, Combat Action Ribbon, and Purple Heart.
Funeral services were held on August 9, 1968 at Gavegan Funeral Home. Interment with military honors was performed at Fairview Cemetery, Coatesville. Jim left behind his wife, Judy and their 4-month-old son, James C. Markel III.
On May 31, 1981, East Fallowfied Township held a “Vietnam Memorial Dedication,” honoring her two lost sons of the Vietnam War, LCPL James C. Markel Jr.,USMC and Specialist 4 Glenn C. Valente, USA. Today, the memorial still stands at the base of the American flag pole.