Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran James Edward Blakely. James served during World War II.
Born and raised in Arkansas, James enlisted in the United States Navy on Sept. 26, 1939. After completing his training, James was assigned to the USS Saint Louis.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the day Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, James and the USS Saint Louis were docked at the southeast pier. James was awoken by an all hands on deck order and quickly manned his battle station in the lower handling room. There, he began running ammunition to the ships anti-aircraft guns above deck. Despite the ensuing chaos, James and the crew of the USS Saint Louis managed to make their way to the channel entrance, where they were engaged by a Japanese submarine. The torpedoes launched by the submarine detonated 200 yard short of the USS Saint Louis, allowing the ship and its escort ships to launch depth charges, sinking the enemy vessel. Later that day, James and the USS Saint Louis continued out to open sea, joining the USS Detroit and USS Phoenix in an attempt to track down the Japanese force.
After failing to track down the Japanese forces, James and the USS Saint Louis returned to Pearl Harbor. Upon arriving, they were tasked with transporting casualties to San Francisco and bringing troops with them on their way back. The horrors James witnessed during the attack on Pearl Harbor remained with him throughout his life.
Later during the war, James began serving on the USS President Jackson attack-transport ship. He participated in many of the major combat operations which took place in the Pacific theater, including the battles of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, the Marshal Islands and Guam. During these battles, the USS Jackson was responsible for transporting troops to the battle field and evacuating the dead and wounded. Even in old age, James vividly recalled the overwhelming number of dead he encountered during his service.
James spent his last days of service in Norfolk Virginia and was discharged on Oct. 8, 1945 at the rank of cook first class.
Thank you for your service, James!
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Graphic By Alexandra Craig: Alexandra Craig is an undergraduate senior at the University of San Francisco studying International Peace and Conflict Studies.