1926 – 2023

James A. Mulligan Jr. 96 quietly died at home on January 18, 2023 with family and caregivers present. He was born March 27, 1926 in Lawrence, MA to the late James A. Mulligan Sr. and Louise M. Cayer.

He was predeceased by his wife of over 73 years, Louise Kolce and sons, Kevin John and Terrance Adam Mulligan. Surviving are sons James (Virginia), Mark (Carol), Sean (Kathy), Neil (Wesley), daughters-in-law Mary and Nina; 17 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. On 14 October, 1948 Jim (22) married Louise (19) in the NAS Quonset Point RI Navy Chapel. During their non-standard 31 year Navy career, Louise raised their six sons while Jim made six Med deployments plus the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crises prior to his West Pac deployment on the USS Enterprise to Vietnam (Yankee Station), where on his 80th mission he was shot down & captured on March 20, 1966 and remained a POW until his release on February 12 (Lincoln’s birthday), 1973.

The following books recount those POW/MIA experiences: The Hanoi Commitment by Jim Mulligan, published by Louise Mulligan, which The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge recognized in 1982 as the “best military book”; Defiant by Alvin Townley (on the Alcatraz Gang) and most recently The League of Wives by Heath Lee. Louise was the outspoken leader of the League of Wives as she fought the National government and military hierarchy on behalf of the imprisoned and missing military family members. In October, 2022 her hometown, Lawrence, MA posthumously recognized her role as an original leader in what ultimately became the National League of POW/MIA Families with a street corner dedication. Of note, at an earlier date the city of Lawrence dedicated a street corner to James A. Mulligan, Jr., the only couple to receive such a distinction by the city.

Captain Mulligan enlisted in the Navy on February 9, 1944 (Aviation Cadet V-5 Program), received his wings on August 16, 1947 and served on active duty during WWII, Korea and Vietnam, retiring on July 31, 1975. He accumulated over 5,000 single flying hours and made 650 arrested carrier landings with over 150 completed at night under hazardous conditions worsened by a military readiness state held over from WWII known as “darkened ship”. He was a POW for 2522 days and was one of eleven POW’s held under the severest of conditions in a camp they named Alcatraz enduring starvation and torture, leg irons for twenty-six months and over forty-two months of solitary confinement. Upon his repatriation, Captain Mulligan obtained a Master””‘s in Public Administration at ODU prior to his retirement.

Rear Admiral R. E. Rumble stated at his retirement ceremony “The many commendatory citations which are part of your permanent Navy record clearly indicate a high degree of courage and unwavering devotion to duty which have marked your service. Throughout your period of imprisonment, your inspiring courage, exceptional skill, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty reflected great credit upon yourself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.” Awards and medals received during his distinguished career are: Silver Star (1 gold star), Legion of Merit (with Combat “V”), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star (with Combat “V” “”” 3 gold stars), Air Medal (1 silver star and 1 gold star), Purple Heart (1 gold star), Combat Action Ribbon, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal (with clasp), National Defense Service Medal (with 1 star in lieu of 2nd award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Cuba), Vietnam Service Medal (with 3 silver stars and 2 bronze stars), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (with device-1960), Good Conduct Medal.

On Wednesday, February 8 at 11:00AM a Mass of Christian burial with military honors will be held at Holy Family Catholic church in Virginia Beach with a reception immediately to follow in the Family Room. Interment will be private. For those unable to attend the service go to and click on “live stream” or to the Church of the Holy Family Facebook page and click on “like”. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Holy Family Church (Haiti Outreach Program), a longtime ministry of both Jim and Louise. Online condolences may be offered to the family at

Published by on Jan. 24, 2023.