Petitioners seeking to name Beaver High football field in honor of pilot killed in Vietnam War

Snow covers the football field at Beaver High School, Beaver, Utah, April 11, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Marla McMaster, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Hundreds of Beaver County residents have signed a petition asking the local school board to name Beaver High School’s football field “Jimmy Low Field” in honor of James Bernard Low, a 1969 graduate of Beaver High who died in combat less than two years later during the Vietnam War.

High school yearbook photo of James “Jimmy” Bernard Low (1951-1971). | Photo courtesy of the Low family, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Something like this is long overdue,” said Keith Cartwright, one of Low’s closest friends and a member of Low’s graduating class at Beaver High. “If this actually comes to be, and I believe that it will, it will show our unsung heroes from Vietnam that their sacrifice and valor is very much recognized and appreciated.”

Cartwright told Cedar City News this week that at least 686 signatures had been gathered, with a yet-unknown number of additional signers on other petitions throughout the communities of Beaver, Minersville and Milford.

A group of petitioners initially presented the field-naming proposal to the Beaver County School District’s Board of Education on March 27 and plan to follow up at the school board’s next meeting on April 24.

“We will present them with the results of our petitions, to include any comments left by petition signers,” Cartwright said.

Cartwright noted that Low was an accomplished athlete who played on the Beaver football team’s offensive line all four years of high school.

“His position was that of center, and he was the best there was,” Cartwright wrote in a biographical sketch he authored about Low. “(In) many of the pictures that we have of Jimmy he is dressed in his football uniform. Jimmy was truly a team player.”

Low was well-liked among his high school classmates, Cartwright added.

High school yearbook photo of James “Jimmy” Bernard Low (1951-1971). Efforts are under way to name Beaver High School’s football field in Low’s honor. Photo courtesy of the Low family, St. George News / Cedar City News

“His friends remember Jimmy as a fun loving young man who always wore a smile and who you just wanted to be around. He was that sort of person, someone who seemed to bring the better part of you out with just a friendly smile on an otherwise gloomy day.”

Born in Cedar City on June 13, 1951, Low was the oldest of six children born to Beaver residents James Allen “Jim” Low and Yvonne Anderson Low. Some members of the Low family still reside in the Beaver area.

At Beaver High, Jimmy Low was actively involved in school politics and served as junior class president. He was also chosen to attend Boys State, representing the local American Legion Post in his hometown.

“This most certainly instilled in him a measure of patriotism and pride, which later influenced his decision to serve his country after graduation from high school,” Cartwright said.

“Jimmy decided that he didn’t want to burden his family with the expense of his college education and instead decided to volunteer for the U. S. Army, choosing to train as a helicopter pilot with the certain knowledge that he would see action in Vietnam. That aside, he realized that his aviation skills would give him a useful skill for employment after his time in the service.”

After going through basic training in Louisiana and graduating from flight school in Texas, Low was deployed to Vietnam at the end of 1970, officially starting his tour of duty on Jan. 7, 1971, Cartwright said, noting that Low was assigned to C Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade, who were known as the “Ruthless Riders.”

On March 31, less than three months after starting his stint in Vietnam, Low was critically injured in action while flying a AH-1G Cobra helicopter during Operation Lam Son 719 in the jungles of Laos. After the aircraft was shot down, a couple of his fellow pilots tried to extricate Low from the wreckage.

Military photo of U.S. Army helicopter pilot James “Jimmy” Bernard Low (1951-1971). Efforts are under way to name Beaver High School’s football field in Low’s honor. Photo courtesy of the Low family, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Unable to remove Jimmy from the crash, they tied a rope around him and used the rescue helicopter to pull him clear of the wreckage,” Cartwright wrote in his account. “Because the helicopter that Major Allen was flying that day was under constant enemy fire during the rescue, he was unable to gain altitude and Jimmy was dragged through the trees for some distance before being secured on board the aircraft.

“A number of Jimmy’s fellow airmen visited him at a hospital the next day. They said that they were unable to recognize him at first because he had suffered burns over 70 percent of his body. It was only after he spoke to them that they recognized their friend.”

Low was later flown to Japan for treatment, but he died of his injuries on April 3, 1971, just a couple months before his 21st birthday.

Fellow warrant officer Tom Dunn, who was flying with Low in the helicopter, survived the incident and later recounted the valiant efforts made to save his life, along with Low’s and numerous others.

“Jimmy was a really nice kid and it’s a shame that people like him have to die in wars, but we were soldiers and unfortunately that was our jobs,” Dunn was quoted by Cartwright as saying.

Cartwright said that should school officials agree to name the field in honor of Low, he and other supporters plan to conduct a fundraiser to help pay for new signage to be installed at the stadium.

“Our youth today need to understand that freedom is not free, and sometimes good people such as Jimmy may have to pay the ultimate price for that freedom,” Cartwright said. “Beaver has a long history of veterans who have given service to our country and that service needs to be recognized beyond the memorial in the City Park and flags flown on Memorial Day at our cemetery. Visitors to this community will see the pride, the patriotism, and that military service means something here in this part of Utah.”

Scoreboard on the corner of the football field at Beaver High School, Beaver, Utah, April 11, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Marla McMaster, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Jimmy Low spent a great amount of his time during the later part of his short life playing football on that same field that we now feel should bear his name,” Cartwright said, adding that naming the field in honor of Low would also serve as “a tribute to all the sons and daughters of this community who have answered the call in times of need.”

Kristi Hurd, who is Cartwright’s daughter, said the support she has seen among Beaver High students and alumni has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The thing we heard over and over was, ‘Beaver couldn’t pick a better role model to name that field after,'” Hurd said, adding that the petition drive exceeded its signature-collecting goal. “Students were quick to sign once they heard who he was and what he did.”


  • Link to online version of petition, where supporters may sign electronically.
  • James Bernard Low’s memorial page on The Virtual Wall, a Vietnam Memorial website.
  • Beaver High School Memorial Facebook page.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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