Vice Admiral James C. Irwin became Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard May 16, 1986, after serving two years as Fifth Coast Guard District Commander in Portsmouth, Va. He was selected for Rear Admiral in 1982 and was Chief, Office of Reserve at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, from 1982 to 1984.
Prior to his Headquarters tour, VADM Irwin was Chief of Staff, Eighth Coast Guard District in New Orleans, in 1980; Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in 1977 and Chief, Operations Division at Second Coast Guard District Office, St. Louis, in 1975. He took command of the U.S. Coast Guard cadet training barque Eagle in May 1974; was Executive Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center at Governors Island, N.Y., in January 1974, and was Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer in 1972.
VADM Irwin served with the Coast Guard Mission to the United Nations in New York as an advisor for Political and Security Affairs from 1969 to 1972. He was stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters as Aide to the Secretary of Transportation in 1966, and in the Administrative Management Division from June to November 1966. From 1958 to 1962, he served as Company Officer and Admiral's Aide at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
He commanded the Coast Guard Cutter Yeaton based at New London, Conn., from 1962 to 1965; was Executive Officer onboard the Coast Guard Cutter Alert at Morrow Bay, Calif., from 1957 to 1958 and was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Taney at Alameda, Calif., from 1953 to 1955. He was also Commanding Officer of the USCG LORAN Station at Talampulan in the Philippine Islands, from 1956 to 1957.
VADM Irwin was graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1953 after attending Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He was graduated from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., in 1966 and earned a Master of Science degree in international affairs from George Washington University.
He was awarded two Legion of Merit Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals and several lesser decorations.
VADM Irwin is married to the former LaVerne G. They have five children: Terese, Matthew, Peter, Kathleen and Julie.