Bravery at Pearl Harbor

Since today, December 7th, is the 80th Remembrance of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, I wanted to share this brief family connection.

My adoptive grandmother’s nephew, Richard Allen James (1921-1972), was serving in the Army at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during the time of the attack.

My featured postcard is a Kodak Real Photo Postcard, with a listed number on the front S-643 and is titled “Hula Dancers – Hawaiian Islands”. The card was sent to my mom from Richard while he was stationed in Hawaii. I cannot make out the postmark but since it was addressed to Harris Avenue and not Fairview Avenue, I would date it most likely just after Christmas of 1941.

The handwritten message reads:

Dear Cousin Marian,

Just a few lines to let you know I’m all right and I hope you are the same. The reason I didn’t write sooner was because I’ve been pretty busy. I’m going to write your mother a few lines. Thanks a lot for the Xmas card.

P.F.C. Richard James

Richard Allen James was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His parents were Howard A. (1894-1963) and Mary (Dempsey) James. Howard was a brother to my adoptive grandmother Bertha L. James (also known in my blog as Gra Gra).

Mary Dempsey was second wife to Howard and according to the Family Bible they were married in January of 1924. Howard had first been married to Alfreda Tedford and they had one son together, Howard Tedford James (1917-1956).

The following children were born to Howard and Mary (Resource: Family Bible):

Richard Allen James (1921-1972)

John (1924-1964)
Virginia (1926-1999)
Margaret B. (1927-1930)
Florence (1929-2008)
Robert D. (1933-1996)
Howard A. Jr. (1935-2005)

According to his WWII draft registration, Richard had blue eyes, was living in West Warwick and was unemployed at that time. Richard had enlisted in 1939 at the age of 18. His brother John had enlisted in the Navy at age 17.

In the Family Bible, the newspaper article (shown below) has been kept for many years.

In the above article it refers to an “Evening Bulletin” reporter. Apparently, this piece ran in both The Evening Bulletin which was the evening edition and The Providence Journal the morning edition (only the morning edition remains in the present day), both were generated from the same company.

The clipped article that I have in my possession was undated and upon an online search I was able to find the ProJo version with a slightly different title but the write up was the same. “Recognized for Bravery…” was the start of the title article that appeared in April of 1942 in The Providence Journal.

This article explains that Private 1st Class Richard Allen James was one of seven men to receive the commendation for bravery in action. In an effort to reach his post during the attack on that day December 7, 1941, he had to pass through heavy fire.

His mother, Aunt Mary, explained in the article that Richard had always been an active boy and enjoyed football and baseball.

During my online search I was able to find another article from The Providence Journal, edition of June 7, 1945. The article explained that Richard was one of eight Rhode Island soldiers who were returning from the Pacific Theater by way of San Francisco. They were being discharged from the Army under the point system and were the first group to be discharged.

In future blogs, I hope to explore other family-related service connections.

Until next time…

Related Previous blogs:

Dad’s 461st Air Service Squadron

My Dad: A Soldier of World War II

Uncle Lionel: Fort Greble, RI; Vet of WWI

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DarpityJean

I enjoy researching family history, writing and solving jigsaw puzzles. My childhood nickname was Darpity and my middle name is Jean--hence, DarpityJean. My Gravatar is an illustration my mother made in 1940, which seemed to be the right fit to use.

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