James William Sutherland Jr. (1918–1987)

James William “Jock” Sutherland Jr. was an ROTC student at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) who rose to command the U.S. Army’s XXIV Corps in the Vietnam War and retired as a lieutenant general.

James W. Sutherland was born on February 8, 1918, in Bentonville (Benton County) to James William Sutherland Sr. and Lena McSpadden Sutherland. After growing up in Rogers (Benton County), he attended UA, where he was in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). After graduating in 1940, he was inducted into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant through the Thompson Act, which provided regular army commissions to outstanding ROTC participants.

Sutherland fought with the First Armored Division in Africa and Italy during World War II, including at Anzio, and was in Germany after hostilities ceased. He received the Silver Star twice and the Purple Heart twice during his wartime service.

He married Jean Sophia Baker of Bismarck, South Dakota, in 1946. They had two daughters and two sons.

Sutherland rose through the ranks and, by 1963, was heading the Army Combat Development Command Experiment Center at Fort Ord, California. When Arkansas Gazette columnist Ernie Deane profiled him two years later, he wrote that “much of his peacetime work has been in research and in the development of tanks, tank weapons, and other ordnance,” though he had also served as a military adviser in Belgium and Luxembourg. He served for two years as the commander of the Army Test and Evaluation Command at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and was commander of the Army Armor Center and School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for twenty months before being ordered to Vietnam in 1970.

Sutherland served as the deputy commander of the U.S. forces operating in the eleven provinces around Saigon before taking command of the XXIV Corps, leading 9,000 American troops in the five northern-most provinces of South Vietnam. In that role, he led the U.S. forces who supported the South Vietnamese troops who invaded Laos in an attempt to break the supply line from North Vietnam.

After his service in Vietnam, Sutherland was ordered to the U.S. European Command Headquarters at Stuttgart, Germany, pausing in Fayetteville to visit his brother, UA architecture professor Cyrus Sutherland. He served as chief of staff at the European Command until his retirement at the rank of lieutenant general in August 1974. Sutherland was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal three times during his thirty-four-year army career.

Sutherland and his wife moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, where he died on May 1, 1987. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

For additional information:
“Arkansas General Ordered to Vietnam.” Arkansas Gazette, January 31, 1970, p. 10A.

“Arkansas General Promoted.” Arkansas Democrat, May 24, 1963, p. 3.

“Career Army Officer Plans Retirement.” Bismarck [North Dakota] Tribune, August 21, 1974, p. 21.

“Commissioning Ceremonies Set at University.” Arkansas Gazette, May 23, 1969, p. 2A.

Deane, Ernie. “11 Army Generals Sprang from Arkansas.” Arkansas Gazette, July 25, 1965, p. 5E.

———. “Arkansas Generals in Key Positions.” Arkansas Gazette, July 18, 1965, p. 5E.

“Fire Bases at Sepone Abandoned.” Arkansas Gazette, March 13, 1971, p. 1, 2A.

“General Visits Here Briefly.” Northwest Arkansas Times, June 23, 1971, p. 11.

“James W. Sutherland, Retired Army General.” The State [Columbia, South Carolina], May 3, 1987, p. 24.

“LTG James William “Jock” Sutherland.” Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/62096965/james-william-sutherland (accessed June 14, 2023).

“Personal.” Arkansas Gazette, July 15, 1941, p. 3.

Williams, T. Jeff. “Phnom Penh Tense.” Blytheville Courier, June 18, 1970, pp. 1, 4.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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