James Alexander Niemi passed away on July 6, 2018, after a long battle with complications from prostate cancer. Jim was born on June 30, 1942 in Duluth, MN into a proud Finnish family. His father’s job moved the family to Chicago, Long Island and finally Pittsburgh, where Jim graduated from high school. Jim joined the Army after a couple of years of college knowing that he wanted to fly. He completed officer candidate school and eventually became a helicopter pilot before shipping off to Vietnam. He did two tours in ‘Nam that included not only Hueys but also Cobras and “Bird dogs,” a small reconnaissance plane. Jim’s love of flying was passed on to his oldest son who he taught to fly while still in his teens. After service in the “regular” Army, Jim entered the Florida Army Air National Guard where he commanded the Hueys first at Craig Field, then at Camp Banding, Florida. He retired after 20+ years of Military service (as he liked to say, “Fly Army!”). During the last years of his military service, Jim returned to college completing his undergraduate degree, MBA and CPA certification before starting work as an accountant until his retirement.
Jim is survived by his second wife, Vicki Decker, sons Col. Christopher J. Niemi, (Brig Gen select USAF), wife Janice, Eric M. Niemi, wife Michelle, grandchildren: Lauren, John, Nicolas and Max, brother Forrest W. Niemi, and first wife and friend Jean Fox.
Since Jim did love a reason to gather, hoist a few, and tell old war stories, there will be a celebration of life for Jim at the River House at the Club Continental in Orange Park, FL at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, August 10, 2018.