James Michael Durham – Colonel, United States Army

Submitted By His Son, David B. Durham, Commander, United States Navy, January 2007:

Colonel James Michael Durham, United States Army (retired), 66, of Farnham, Virginia, died January 23, 2004 after a brief illness. He was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on February 20, 2004.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Colonel Durham was the son of Eloise Whittington and J. Burney Durham. A 1954 graduate of Byrd High School in Shreveport, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana in 1959. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army's Ordnance Corps and advanced through the rank of Colonel during his twenty-seven year Army career. He earned masters degrees from New Mexico State University, the University of Southern California, and Michigan State University and was a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

He was a veteran of the Vietnam War where he earned the Bronze Star and various campaign awards. His other awards included the Legion of Merit (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

Among his Army assignments, Colonel Durham commanded the 703rd Maintenance Battalion, the 3rd Materiel Maintenance Command, and the Mainz Army Depot. He was also Product Manager for the Heavy Equipment Transport and in his final assignment, Program Manager, Tactical Vehicles. As PM(TV), he was responsible for the engineering, production, fielding, logistics, and support of over fifty separate systems. These systems ranged from light tactical vehicles such as the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee) to the Family of Medium Trucks to the Army's largest vehicles such as the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT). During his tenure he oversaw the initial fielding of the Humvee which replaced the World War II vintage Army Jeep.

After retiring from the Army he held various positions within the defense industry including Director, Tank Automotive Programs for Cypress International, Vice President, Government Business for Cummins Engine Co, Inc., President, Cummins Military Systems, Inc., and Vice President, Marketing and Business Development for Lear Siegler Services, Inc. In 1995 he established JD Interests, Inc., an aerospace and defense systems marketing and business development consultant services firm.

Active in his local Virginia community, Colonel Durham served on the boards of the Richmond & Westmoreland Counties (Virginia) chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Northern Neck chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, the Potomac chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, and the Historical Society of the Northern Neck of Virginia.

He is survived by his wife, Constance Manuela Alvarez Durham; daughter Jennifer Esperanza; sons and daughters-in-law Dr. James M. Durham, Jr. and Kathy Durham, Christopher Durham and Kari Durham, Commander David Durham, United States Navy and Lisa Durham, and Matthew and Karin Durham; brother and sister-in-law Major Robert Durham, United States Army (retired) and Carole Durham, brother Thomas Durham, sister-in-law Carol Durham; and eight grandchildren, Caitlin Durham, Emily Esperanza, Ryan Durham, Rebecca Durham, Anna Durham, Gabriel Kessler, Owen Durham, Zoe Durham, and Tess Durham.

He was a virtuous role model and loving husband, parent, grandparent, and brother.

His brother Lieutenant Colonel Donald Durham, United States Army (retired) succumbed to cancer in 2006 and will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery as well.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/27/1937
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/23/2004

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