Help a Fallen Vietnam Veteran

James"Jim" Frank  Nelson was a God-fearing, hard-working, family loving, proud American. He was man among men, and a patriot among patriots.  He served in the US Navy for almost 7 years during Vietnam. He worked for the Vermont Central Railroad as an electrician and lineman. He loved motorcycles and spent countless hours working on and riding them. He was the best dad to his 2 sons and to many of their friends, and a very proud grandpa to 5 grandchildren. He always held his family and friends very close to his heart. And although he did not attend church, he had a strong belief and relationship with our Lord and Savior, GOD and Jesus Christ. There is no doubt he is now in heaven watching over all who he cared about. 

My name is Jamie, and I was Jim's daughter-in-law. I have been with his younger son, Jamie, and part of the family for almost 14 years. We live in a small apartment in Essex, Vermont with our 8-year old son. We don't live extravagantly, I'm very low maintenance and drive a 2005 truck that we got about 4 years ago. We have one new truck that's a lease and have a payment for. My brother-in-law, Jeremiah, lives in St. George, Vermont, at the house he and dad have been renting for the last year. He's divorced and has 4 children between the ages of 14 and 8. We all counted on Dad a lot. He always did what he could for us, even when he couldn't afford it, and often tried going without just so that we could have what we needed. It's just who he was. 

Jim was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and brain tumors earlier this year.  The doctors said with no treatment he had 4-6 months to live, but with radiation, chemotherapy, and medicine he would have at least a year probably more. After starting medication he became very weak. He had one round of radiation when the doctor decided he could not handle anymore. After several weeks, of good days and bad days, they gave him a couple rounds of chemo. He got diverticulitis and the antibiotics did not touch it. He was just too weak to heal the infection and fight the cancer. He lost his fight on July 23, 2020 around 9:30 p.m. 

We buried Jim on a beautiful August day, the 23rd, at his land in Fairfax, Vermont. We built him a homemade coffin from trees that had fallen on his land during a wind storm and that he had helped us finish cutting down. A couple of very close friends and kind of "adopted sons" helped us complete our "dreams" of this day. One of them , being a veteran himself, helped with the coffin and wood burned an American Flag over the whole cover and carved the US Navy's symbol on a piece of wood that was then mounted to the top of the coffin. It was beautiful and I think/know, Jim would have been proud and honored. Another friend/brother, built a small trailer and trailer hitch for his motorcycle, a 2003 Harley Davidson Anniversary Edition Softtail, so that we could give Jim one last ride on a Harley and to his final resting place. It rained that morning, and had a 60% chance of rain all day. We were meeting at Minor's Funeral Home in Milton at noon. At around 11:00 a.m. the boys got on their bikes at home to head to the funeral home, and it stopped raining. The rest of the day was beautiful, blue skies and not a cloud in sight. We were escorted  by the Vermont Patriot Guard, members of Vermont Thunder, and many friends and family, some on bikes and many in cages. Jim had a military service provided by the Honor Guard of the US Navy, and the Franklin County Armor Detail provided the 21-gun salute and played Taps on bugle. Pastor Kevin Kimball gave a beautiful eulogy, speaking of the true measures of a man, how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good, not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy, when they're tired and exhausted, and not by what he does, but by what he gives, and quoted John 15:13 NKJV "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends".  We laughed, and cried, hugged and supported each other, shared our own stories and memories of Jim, had a couple beers in his name, and cried more. Ultimately realizing that it was time to lower him for his eternal rest. Many stayed and helped us complete the full burial as it was our responsibility being on our own land. It was a beautiful and perfect day in all ways but one, that he wasn't "there" with us. 

It's been a month since his funeral  and we are still trying to take care of all the responsibilities that come with death. Jim didn't have life insurance, and hadn't made arrangements prior to his death. We hope to get a small reimbursement from the VA, once we are done the paperwork for it, but it is seriously atrocious. All of the other agencies we spoke to that claim to help veterans families in need at times like these did not or could not help.

We are having a Memorial Ride in Jim's honor on October 3rd, 2020, with a rain date of Sunday the 4th. We are going to make this an annual ride and would like it to be closer to Jim's birthday,  September 11th, in upcoming years. It will be a fundraising event so that we can donate the money to a veteran family who needs help with final expenses. 

Please donate if you have the ability to do so.

"A Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life". Jose N. Harris


  • masato nishiyama 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Greg Sovkoplas 
    • $150 
    • 1 mo


Jamie Martin 
Essex Junction, VT

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