Title: Army Staff Sergeant, World War II; Army Sergeant First Class, Korean War; Bronze Service Medal and Purple Heart recipient
Birthdate: August 7, 1922
Death Date: September 15, 1965
Plot Location: Section 127, Lot 22

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Jim was the last of five children in his family, all Philadelphia natives. His childhood wasn’t a comfortable one. He was closest to his brother Carl who was two years older, but when little Jimmy was 7 he was confronted with the tragedy of death after Carl didn’t recover from an attack of appendicitis.

Things got worse from there. His parents divorced, or at least that’s how Amanda listed herself in the 1930 census as head of the household. William was found on the census in Camden, listed as a truck driver and living in a boarding house where he reported his status as married. Jim was a teenager when his siblings all left to get married. Then in 1939 a sudden illness took his father’s life.

One positive aspect of military life is structure which leads to stability. Jim enlisted in the Army on his 18th birthday, August 7, 1940. After two years he went overseas as a Staff Sergeant in the Corps of Engineers. He was discharged following his return home in June, 1945, but tragedy struck once more. His mother died in October. He made the only logical decision and re-enlisted.

In 1947 the Army retroactively awarded the Bronze Service Medal to Jim and all U.S. Army soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge during World War II. He also received the Good Conduct Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal for serving in Japan after its surrender.

As a result of that surrender, Japan lost control of Korea, which had been a Japanese colony for 35 years. It was divided into two zones which became two sovereign states in 1948. In June of 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea, nearly occupying the entire peninsula. 

Jim was still in Japan with Company F of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. They had occupied Tokyo since 1945, guarding the U.S. Embassy and General Douglas MacArthur’s residence. The United States was ill-prepared to engage again in warfare, but had to respond to the Korean crisis quickly with the closest troops, which were in Japan. The 5th and 8th Regiments landed in Korea on July 18, while the 7th followed four days later. 

On July 25 Jim’s company moved up as reinforcements and he was hit. At Osaka Army Hospital in Japan the diagnosis was a wounded arm and loss of hearing in one ear. His record says he was returned to duty in August but readmitted in September with malaria. What became apparent later was even worse. He went to Walter Reed Army Hospital with a diagnosis of encephalopathy or brain dysfunction due to trauma. Another diagnosis said “concussion of the brain.” 

He was discharged on November 30, 1951 with the stated disability being total deafness in one ear. That was the qualifying reason, but the ramifications of traumatic brain injury (TBI) weren’t as thoroughly understood in those days. He was likely awarded the Purple Heart while at Walter Reed.

What would he do now and where would he live? Jim was single, so he came home to New Jersey to live with his sister’s family on 32nd Street in Camden. Eventually he did get married and had at least one child. Whether or not he ever regained hearing in one ear, the return to civilian life must have also included an on-going struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

He lost his battle in 1965 when he jumped off Pier 40 into the Delaware River. The Medical Examiner’s Certificate of Death reported it as a suicide. Other details that were listed included Jim’s occupation which only said “public service,” and his wife’s address being 3303 Remington Street in Camden.

She submitted the order for this military gravestone as a permanent reminder of just two of the medals Jim received during his career. His sister also added his name to the family stone which remembers his parents and one brother with whom he was buried.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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