James Carlton Queen – Major, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:

James Carlton “Big Jim” Queen, 78, a retired D.C. public school administrator and Army Major whose actions in the Korean War as a Ranger leader led to his induction into the Ranger Hall of Fame, died April 14, 2004, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had cancer.

Major Queen retired in 1985 as an assistant principal at H.D. Woodson Senior High School, where he spent about a decade. He began working for the school system in the late 1960s as a special education teacher and guidance counselor at Rebaut Junior High School. He also worked at Hamilton Junior High School.

The Washington native and resident’s nickname came from his height: He stood 6 foot 5. He was a graduate of Armstrong High School, where he was on the varsity football and swimming teams, and D.C. Teachers College. He received a master’s degree in special education from the University of Maryland.

He joined the Army toward the end of World War II and served in the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, an all-black unit. They were also called the “Smoke-Jumpers,” because they spent the war fighting forest fires in the Pacific Northwest set by Japanese incendiary balloons.

“War Department studies indicated that they didn’t believe that black troops could become paratroopers, just like they didn’t believe black soldiers could become airmen,” Major Queen told the Associated Press in 1995 during a dedication ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery honoring the parachutists. “They just didn’t think we could do it.”

In Korea, he was a Ranger leader, leading patrols and overseeing his company’s heavy weapons.

In May 1951, he led 65 men charged with taking a hill and ran into a battalion of Chinese army soldiers. He fought a three-hour campaign, but his group suffered 50 percent casualties and had to retreat temporarily. He returned at dawn the next day with the remnants of his company and with brutal force retook the hill in an hour from the Chinese.

He received the Silver Star for that effort and also was a recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

He retired in 1964 while at Walter Reed because of complications from diabetes. He was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 1994.

He spent the last decade writing a history of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Co., one of the first black airborne companies to fight in Korea.

His memberships included Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Washington, Kappa Alpha Psi social fraternity, the NAACP and the American Legion. He was a former Boy Scout troop leader.

His wife, Phyllis Jeffreys Queen, whom he married in 1948, died in 2000.

Survivors include four children, Reginald Queen of Clinton, David Queen of Tampa and Deborah Sears and Cheryl Gaskins, both of Washington; three stepchildren adopted by Maj. Queen, Jacqueline Suttice of Concord, Mass., Thomas Queen of Washington and Jeffrey Queen of San Diego; 15 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.


On Wednesday, April 14, 2004 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A native Washingtonian, he was educated in the District of Columbia Public Schools, receiving a B.A. degree from District of Columbia Teachers’ College and his M.A. at University of Maryland.

Jim enlisted in the Army in February 1944 and retired with the rank of Major in May of 1964, receiving many awards which include: Expert and Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge with Star, Pathfinder Badge, Ranger TAB, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, as well as several service ribbons.

Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis Marie Queen. Survivors include four sons, Thomas, Jeffrey, Reginald and David Queen; three daughters, Jacqueline Suttice, Deborah Sears and Cheryl Gaskins; 15 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Interment Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Courtesy of the Ranger Hall of Fame:


Major James C. Queen is inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame for his valiant actions while serving as a Ranger leader in the Korean War.

While serving with the 4th Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) (redesignated the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) Major Queen led numerous patrols and controlled the company heavy weapons. He made the combat jump with the company at Munsan-ni and saw action at Tangerine Pass.

In May of 1951 Major Queen led the company on a mission to take Hill 581. During this operation he acted as the Company Commander for the 2nd Ranger Company. They moved as the lead element for the 7th Infantry Division and with only 65 men came into contact with a battalion of Chinese regulars. Major Queen immediately called for artillery fire and led his men into battle. They fought the enemy for three hours but after taking 50% casualties the company fell back to the 7th Division lines.

At dawn the following day, Major Queen led the remainder of his company in a counterattack on the Hill. After nearly one hour of intense fighting, the Rangers pushed the Chinese back and retook the Hill. Major Queen’s leadership ability and courageous actions are in the finest traditions of the Rangers and the United States Army.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 04/18/1946 – 05/17/1961
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/06/1926
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/14/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/23/2004


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/23/1924
  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/15/2000
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 08/22/2000


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment