HOLMDEL, N.J. (PIX11) – As an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Bill Leipold flew and successfully completed many missions.
Decades later, as a volunteer at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Musem, he’s completed another mission: give James “Big Jim” Gosselin the honor he deserves.
A Navy medic from Pleasantville, N.J., who also served in the Army, Gosselin was killed in action on Feb. 2, 1968, while trying to save the life of a Marine. All Vietnam Veterans killed in action from New Jersey are listed here on the memorial wall in Holmdel – nearly 1,600 men and women. However, Gosselin’s name never appeared on the wall; a clerical error listed him as hailing from Pleasantville, Pa., not New Jersey.
“I looked at different databases I could find to discover what was going on,” said Leipold, a fellow Pleasantville native.
Leipold plunged into a yearlong research process, poring over yearbooks and contacting Gosselin’s high school classmates.
“Not that I was a criminologist, but I was somewhat skeptical,” said Leipold. “I was sure it was all in place, but I needed one final piece.”
A trip to the Atlantic County Historical Society yielded an article in a local paper that all but verified his Garden State roots. In a ceremony last month, Gosselin’s name was finally etched onto the wall. His name is only the second to be added since the memorial’s creation in 1995.
“These guys went into Vietnam and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial CEO Amy Osborn. “They should be honored.”
The Museum says if there are future cases like Gosselin’s, they will make it their mission to bring them honor and justice.
“However, we have to get there. Whatever we have to do to get there, we’re willing to do it,” said Osborn.