Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for James David Yeakley in Heaven

You expect parents, aunts and uncles to pass away before you do but not necessarily cousins who are the same age. It's not that I'm young, I just expected us to grow old together. 

James David Yeakley

I miss Jimmy. I had a cousin crush on him from the time I could remember and was so jealous when he married Regina.

James David Yeakley was the youngest son of Jay Dee and Marie Yeakley. He was born on October 17, 1944 making him five years older than me. Jay Dee and Marie lived in San Diego when he was born. Most of my memories center around their home when they moved to La Mirada. Uncle Jay Dee and Aunt Marie often hosted family weekends. La Mirada was not far from our house so we spent a lot of time swimming in their pool. 

Jimmy had a MG and used to take me for rides. For an impressionable young girl, he was beyond cool. He treated me as an equal although looking back, I must have been a pest. 

He married Regina in 1965 and they moved to Norwalk. I don't know if he enlisted in the Army or if he was drafted but it was at the height of the Vietnam War. According to the family story, he was killed by a sniper while patrolling the Cambodian/Vietnam border on November 17, 1967 at the age of 23. They were not allowed to defend themselves and fire back because we were not at war with Cambodia. Looking back, I don't know how true that story is but it changed the way I looked at war.  

I had the honor to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It was there where I was able to reconcile my total dislike for the Vietnam War with all those who died there. The Wall is a powerful reminder of a time of uncertainty. I believe Jimmy died in a war that was not our business but at the same time, our country called on our young men and they responded, giving their lives. Like others, I made a rubbing of his name. Everyone on the wall had loving families doing the same thing.  

Jimmy did not leave a family to carry on his legacy. He had no children and Regina moved on and remarried, as it should be. He lives only in our memories but he is more than just a birth and death date. He deserves to be remembered as the fun loving person that he was. He was a good son and brother. 

And...he is the only one who drove on the sidewalks in La Mirada to prove to me that he could. What a hoot! 


  1. It's sad that he died so young, though at least you have good memories of him.

    1. You're right and sometimes they even make me laugh out loud.

  2. So many stories of young men who left before their time to fight in a war over nothing.

  3. I have so much respect for our veterans. They do a wonderful service and they deserve to be honored. It's sad that your cousin passed on duty, but he served our country well and will always be remembered in our hearts.

    M. J.
    A - Z Co-Host

  4. What a horrible shock it must have been to get the news. This is a sweet tribute to his memory--he sounds like a really fun guy. He will always be alive in the hearts of those who knew him.

  5. Very poignant and moving. I had an older cousin as well, whom I had a crush on when I was about 9 and he was 12...He, too, died prematurely (age 14), along with his four siblings, in a house fire. These kinds of deaths are so sad.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. That is a tragedy I can't even comprehend. Cousins are supposed to grow old with us.