AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION

James Castaldi

Corporal, U.S. Army

51978276

C Company
Fifth Battalion
7th Cavalry Regiment
1st Cavalry Division

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: January 12, 1968
Buried at: Section B, Site 239
                 Beverly National Cemetery 
                 916 Bridgeboro Road 
                 Beverly, New Jersey 

Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart


CORPORAL JAMES CASTALDI was born on December 31, 1942. His father was a Philadelphia policeman. Sadly, he died in 1945, leaving his wife, James, and a brother, John. James Castaldi's mother, Violet, remarried. She and her new husband, Samuel Snyder, eventually moved to Magnolia, New Jersey. 

James Castaldi attended Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, New Jersey. His home of record was Magnolia, New Jersey. James Castaldi began his tour of duty in Vietnam on September 25, 1967. 

Corporal Castaldi was killed in action in Quang Nam province by a hand grenade on January 12, 1968. He was brought back to New Jersey and buried at Beverly National Cemetery. He was survived by his mother, Violet Snyder, his stepfather, Samuel Snyder, a brother, John.

Forty-Seven years later he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his heroism. His Silver Star citation credits his actions as "instrumental" in the survival of the platoon.

"When the enemy first threatened to overrun the platoon, Cpl. Castaldi immediately responded to a call from a fellow soldier on the flank and moved under intense fire to an exposed position where he could bring effective fire to bear on the enemy.

"He held this key position for many hours. When his M-60 machine gun ran out of ammo, he continued to hold the position and engaged the enemy with his pistol until an explosive devise thrown by enemy killed him."


JAMES CASTALDI
is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
on Panel 34E, Row 38.


MESSAGES LEFT ON THEWALL-USA

MESSAGES LEFT ON THEWALL-USA (as of 2/28/09)

Mark Kapinos

Rest well my cav brother

Mark Kapinos
Tuesday, December 31, 2002.


Camden Courier-Post * May 17, 2015 

Glo. Twp. soldier receives Silver Star posthumously
Posthumous Silver Star awarded to Cpl. James Castaldi, an Army cavalry soldier on Saturday 47 years after he was killed in the Vietnam War. His heroics were never before known except to Dean Davison, a member of his platoon who was with him when he died.

By Carol Comegno, Cherry Hill

Army Cpl. James Castaldi, right, died in an ambush attack during the Vietnam War in 1968. Fellow machine gunner William Port was severely wounded, died as a POW and later was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

CHERRY HILL A handmade explosive device landed alongside Army Cpl. James Castaldi as he lay on his stomach firing a pistol while still behind an M-60 machine gun that had just run out of ammunition.

Fellow Army soldier Dean Davison yelled to alert him and then leaped away from the explosive, which killed Castaldi during a heavy firefight with a larger North Vietnamese Army force that had surrounded their platoon in the jungle of the Que Son Valley on Jan. 12, 1968.

When Castaldi's body was returned from that Vietnam War battle, neither his family nor even his company commander knew of his heroics.

That oversight was rectified Saturday.

At a ceremony 47 years after the Gloucester Township soldier was killed, his Vietnam company commander posthumously awarded him the Silver Star the third-highest combat award for valor.

Anthony Caravello accepts the Silver Star from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Davison Jr. on behalf of his first cousin, James Castaldi, who died in the Vietnam War, during a ceremony held at the American Legion in Cherry Hill. (Photo: Photos by John Jablonowski/For the Courier-Post)

The medal was accepted with a salute by Castaldi's first cousin, Anthony Caravello of Havertown, Pennsylvania, the closest relative who could be located after a search for family members.

Castaldi's mother, Violet Snyder, died in 1980 knowing little about the circumstances of the death of her 25-year-old son, a member of the Class of 1963 at Triton Regional High School. His Philadelphia policeman father died in 1945 and his brother is also deceased.

"I feel very honored to receive it. He died a hero," the 78-year-old Caravello said after the ceremony at American Legion Post 372 in Cherry Hill. "We are very excited to know the story, but it was a shame no one knew about his heroism until now. This is a very big honor for him."

The Silver Star was given posthumously to James Castaldi, who lost his life in the Vietnam War. 

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Davison Jr., (no relation to Dean Davison) 73, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, presented the star on Armed Forces Day with four platoon members and others attending.

Davison was the 7th Cavalry regiment captain of C Company, Fifth Battalion, who commanded the battle from a mountaintop.

"I feel good about bestowing this honor because this needed to be rectified," he said.

Davison sent in his second platoon over three miles of rough terrain to help, but it did not arrive in time to save everyone in the first platoon of about 25. Half were wounded and three were killed.

Essentially, they were all fighting for their lives," Davison concluded, adding he did not know Castaldi as well as other platoon members.

Davison said he takes "full responsibility" that recognition of Castaldi's bravery "fell through the cracks" because a report could not be filed by the platoon leaders. A platoon sergeant was killed and its leader, Lt. Tom Golden, was severely wounded. Golden was transported by helicopter for medical treatment and experienced a long and tough recovery.

"This has been a journey with some satisfaction, a little bit of redemption and some degree of closure," Davison said of the effort to recognize Castaldi.

Castaldi's Silver Star citation credits his actions as "instrumental" in the survival of the platoon.

"When the enemy first threatened to overrun the platoon, Cpl. Castaldi immediately responded to a call from a fellow soldier on the flank and moved under intense fire to an exposed position where he could bring effective fire to bear on the enemy.

"He held this key position for many hours. When his M-60 machine gun ran out of ammo, he continued to hold the position and engaged the enemy with his pistol until an explosive devise thrown by enemy killed him."

It was Golden who located Davison a few years ago because he wanted to file that long overdue action report that had haunted him.

James Castaldi and members
of the 7th Cavalry, C Company,

Platoon mates described Castaldi as a quiet, lanky fellow always up front where the action was.

"I think this (the medal) is a good thing for the family and it's a little emotional for me. Unfortunately, this did happen 47 years ago because I could not provide that report at the time, but better now than never," said Golden, an auctioneer and former Pennsylvania state trooper from Harrisburg.

Dean Davison, the only one with Castaldi when he died, said the corporal never abandoned him and laid there waiting for the NVA with nothing but a pistol.

"Jimmy was lying in the middle of a mountain trail with his machine facing down toward the enemy when we both saw the NVA soldier throw the explosive," Davison said in a phone interview from his Las Vegas home.

"Jimmy shot him in the chest with his pistol first and then I shot him with my M-16, but I don't think Jimmy realized the explosive landed behind him near his left hip."

Anthony Caravello (right) salutes Col. Al Bancroft after receiving a special award on behalf of his cousin James Castaldi, who was killed in Vietnam. (Photo: Photos by John Jablonowski/For the Courier-Post)

Michael Davison said the award may never have been presented if it weren't for Sue Quinn-Morris, a member of the legion's ladies auxiliary who searched for Castaldi relatives and found Caravello.

Triton High School in Runnemede will honor Castaldi and seven other former students killed in Vietnam during a 9 a.m. Memorial Day ceremony Friday at the school's memorial monument.

Reach Carol Comegno at (856) 486-2473 or ccomegno@courierpostonline.com or @carolcomegno


RETURN TO CAMDEN COUNTY WAR DEAD INDEX

RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE