Jim Sursely, a combat-disabled veteran of the Vietnam War, was elected national commander of DAV (Disabled American Veterans) at the organization’s national convention in Reno, Nevada, in 2004. In 2015, Sursely was elected to the board of directors of the Disabled Veterans’ Life Memorial Foundation.


A native of Rochester, Minnesota, Sursely enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam in 1968 and was assigned to the America Division’s 17th Armored Cavalry. During a combat mission in January 1969, he detonated an enemy land mine, which resulted in the traumatic amputation of his legs above the knee and left arm above the elbow. Following emergency helicopter evacuation to the 95th Evacuation Hospital at Da Nang, hospitalization in Japan and extensive recuperation at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Colorado, he was medically discharged.

Sursely returned to Rochester and attended Rochester State Junior College for a year before moving to Florida to attend Seminole Community College to earn an A.S. In 1977, he became a licensed real estate agent and has successfully pursued a real estate and property management career for nearly 40 years.

Sursely has served as a leader at the local, state and national levels and is a past board member for the DAV Charitable Service Trust.

He was honored as the DAV Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year in 1993 and received the DAV Freedom Award at the 2001 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

Jim passed away on May 30. He was 73.  Sursely’s passing was recognized by veterans advocate and Hollywood actor Gary Sinise in a social media post.