If you were going to write the script for a military action movie where the leading character was a larger than life, fearless war hero, the inspiration for that movie could easily be Major James Capers.
Born in Bishopville, South Carolina, he enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. After serving in combat infantry, he re-enlisted and would soon become the first African American to serve in the Marine Corps’ elite special operations unit known as Force Recon. Ultimately, Maj. Capers went on to become one of Force Recon’s most decorated Marines.
During his service, Maj. Capers and his teams conducted over 50 wartime missions, many of which were classified. He led amphibious assaults, covert missions to rescue POWs, and even a recovery mission for a downed B-57 bomber rumored to be carrying a nuclear weapon.
It would take more than two hands to count the number of times Maj. Capers was wounded while serving our nation. His list of awards is a mile long and includes multiple Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and two Bronze Stars with the “V” designation for valor.
A true American hero if there ever was one, Maj. Capers’ service to our nation did not end after retirement in 1978. To this day, he still mentors active duty and retired service members.
The week before last, I had the honor of attending one of several events honoring Maj. Capers in his hometown of Bishopville. Later that weekend, he reportedly told a crowd, “I don’t deserve all of this.” I think he’s wrong. I think he deserves every award and honor that comes his way. Thank you, Maj. Capers, for your incredible service to our nation.
Two great links to read more about the life and legacy of Marine Corps Major James Capers: