James Avery (left, with Will Smith ), the actor best known for playing the self-important Uncle Phil (Judge Philip Banks) on popular 1990s TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, ” died December 31 in Glendale, Calif. Avery, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, was 68.
After a brief stint in college, Avery, who was born in Virginia but grew up in Atlantic City, joined the Navy in 1964. “They were drafting for the Marines and the Army and if you weren’t in school and were eighteen” that was the fate that awaited you, Avory said in a 2010 interview.
“So I joined the Navy. It was a good thing I did because two weeks after I was in boot camp a letter came to my mother saying I was drafted into the Army. I dodged that bullet. “
Avory served for four years. “I was on a ship that was based out of San Diego, ” he said, a ship that made at least one cruise to the Western Pacific.
In another interview , Avory discussed his involvement in several covert operations near Laos and Cambodia during the 1968 Tet Offensive.