Brigadier General James Alva Munson, age 96, died on May 28 in Falmouth.
Born in Long Pine, Nebraska, he graduated from Winner High School in Winner, South Dakota, and from there went on the University of South Dakota for two years. He then entered the US Military Academy (USMA), graduating and commissioned as a field artillery officer in 1945. He later earned a masters in international affairs from Columbia University and also graduated from the Army Staff College and the Army War College.
During his 30 years of active duty General Munson served in the Army of Occupation in Germany, during the truce period in Korea, as a company Executive Officer in Japan, and in combat in Vietnam from 1968-1969. He was twice assigned to embassy duties, first as a military attaché in Argentina and later as defense attaché in Mexico. He also served three tours in the Pentagon including one, notably, as assistant to then Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor. At retirement in 1975 he was the Assistant Commander of the 1st Armored Division in Germany.
General Munson was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Army’s highest noncombat decoration, for his work with the Mexican Army in controlling drug trafficking and crop eradication. Among his other medals were three Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars and five Air Medals (one for valor in combat). The Republic of Vietnam honored him for his courage in rescuing civilians caught in an ambush, as did the government of Mexico for his work with its drug control program.
All of General Munson’s 44 years of retirement were spent on Mariners Lane in Falmouth, or during summers four miles down the road in Menauhant. He was a Deacon in the First Congregational Church and, for several years, chairman of its nominating committee. He served as treasurer and board member of the United Church Apartments, corporate member of the Falmouth Hospital, Red Cross volunteer and Boy Scout committee member. During his years at the Woods Hole Golf Club he served on the board of governors and as chairman of the building committee.
In retirement General Munson worked on his family history and genealogy. He was a major contributor to the Munson Record published in 1993 and was a founding member of the Thomas Munson Foundation, its president for four years, and a leader in establishing its scholarship fund.
He enjoyed golf, fishing, and—once a month for 26 years—poker games with his friends.
General Munson was predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Nancy Brewer Munson, in 2013. He leaves six sons and a daughter: John H. of Dagsboro, Delaware; James S. of Rexford, New York; Thomas D. of Woodbridge, Virginia; Robert A. of Monument, Clorado; Richard J. of Jefferson City, Tennessee; Anne B. of Falmouth; and William R. of Atlanta, Georgia; and three cherished daughters-in-law. He is also survived by five granddaughters (and four grandsons-in-law), four grandsons (and two granddaughters in-law) and two step-grandchildren; as well as six great-granddaughters, five great-grandsons and eight step-great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at the First Congregational Church, 68 Main Street, Falmouth on June 15 at 11 AM.