James W. Rooney
- BORN: May 22, 1945
- DIED: June 7, 2010
- LOCATION: Arlington, VA
James W. Rooney, 65, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who saw action as a Special Forces aviator in Vietnam and later served as a military aide to Charlie Wilson, the flamboyant mastermind behind a covert U.S.-funded war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, died June 7 at his condominium in Arlington. He had liver disease.
Col. Rooney joined the Army in 1967 and served overseas in Vietnam as a fixed-wing pilot. During one mission, while flying a light reconnaissance aircraft in support of a besieged Army unit, Col. Rooney swooped low over enemy bunkers to attract fire and mark their positions. For his bravery, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After graduating from law school in 1981, Col. Rooney served as counsel to the deputy chief of staff of the Army. He later served as a legislative liaison for the Army secretary and worked closely with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) of the Armed Services Committee on legislation to improve housing benefits for soldiers and their families.
In the mid-1980s, Col. Rooney also served as military aide to the legendary Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Tex.) of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense. Wilson, who died Feb. 10 and was the subject of a recent book and movie, both called “Charlie Wilson’s War,” led the covert U.S. funding of mujaheddin guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan battling Soviet forces.
James Walter Rooney, a native of Boston, graduated from Merrimack College in 1975. He received a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California in 1976 and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He received a law degree from Boston’s Suffolk University in 1981.
In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross, his military decorations included the Bronze Star Medal and eight Air Medals.
Col. Rooney became good friends with Wilson — the congressman was the best man at his wedding — and later moved into the high-flying Texan’s condo above the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington. Col. Rooney removed Wilson’s Jacuzzi, but kept his riding stirrup doorknocker.
Survivors include his wife, Jill Davidson of Fairfax Station; three sisters; and two brothers.
May 22nd, 1945
5 + 22 +1+9+4+5 = 46 = his life lesson = what he was here to learn = Making history.