Born in Ware, MA and raised in Cheshire, CT, MAJ James Gafney enlisted in the Army in 1988 just months after turning 18. His assignments had him stationed as a helicopter mechanic in Fulda, Germany, Schweinfurt, Germany, Ft. Sill, OK, Ft. Campbell, KY, and Ft. Eustis, VA. There he instructed America’s newest soldiers in the art and science of helicopter maintenance.
After reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant, he decided he needed something more challenging and attended Officer Candidate School. In 1999, he was commissioned as an Army Aviation Branch Second Lieutenant and attended US Army Rotary-Wing Flight Training at Ft. Rucker, AL where he graduated with honors. Following a tour in Korea as an Executive Officer and Flight Platoon leader, he returned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) as a CH-47D Chinook Helicopter Company Executive Officer. During his tenure with the 101st, he was part of the 2003 initial invasion into Iraq during Operation Iraq Freedom.
After his first tour, the then Lieutenant Gafney completed his BS in Aviation Flight Technology by simultaneously attending Austin Peay State University and Thomas Edision State College where he was awarded the Arnold Fletcher Award for Exceptional Achievment in Independent Learning.
To become a better rounded officer, he attended the Armor Captains Career Course at Ft. Knox, KY. There he learned what it takes to integrate Air and Ground forces to be successful in combat. For his follow-on assignment he remained at Ft. Knox, KY as a Company Commander. He and his company prepared National Guard and Reserve Aviation units for future combat operations. The then Captain Gafney focused his efforts on other Company Commanders. He did this by using his unique insight from his first combat deployment, extensive Counter Insurgency Operations Training, and a common-sense approach to self discovery by individual realization. The method he calls the OaT method (Observe, advise, Train) left commanders feeling confident and secure that they could successfully complete their mission.
Today, MAJ Gafney is performing his second tour of duty in Iraq on a Military Transition Team (MiTT). He is successfully using the same method while working with Iraqi Colonels and Generals advising them with real world, combat related decisions that are directly affecting the future of Iraq.
His medals include but are not limited to the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (5), and the Army Achievement Medal (6), and the Order of St. Michael (Bronze).
He is married to his beautiful wife Larson, who does an outstanding job managing their blended family of nine with children’s ages ranging from infant to 19. Her loyalty has steered them through some of the toughest times in their lives. Her undying love and support as wife and mother allows MAJ Gafney to do what he does, virtually worry free.
He looks forward to returning from his tour in Iraq, spending time with his family, and retiring after a 20+ year career with the United States Army.