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Willy F. James, Jr.
Born (1920-03-18)March 18, 1920
Died April 8, 1945(1945-04-08) (aged 25)
Place of birth Kansas City, Missouri
Place of death KIA near Lippoldsberg, Germany
Place of burial Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942-1945
Rank Private First Class
Unit 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th "Timberwolf" Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Bronze Star
Purple Heart

Willy James grave.jpg

Willy F. James, Jr. (March 18, 1920 - April 8, 1945) was a United States Army private first class who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War II. He was one of seven African-American soldiers who were belatedly awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton on January 13, 1997.

Military service[edit | edit source]

Willy James was born on March 18, 1920 in Kansas City, Missouri. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 11, 1942. He was an infantry scout assigned to Company G, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division in April 1945. On April 7, 1945, he was lead scout during a maneuver to secure a bridgehead near Lippoldsberg, Germany. As his regiment crossed the Weser River, he was pinned down for more than an hour by enemy machine gun fire. When he was able to return to his platoon with his scouting observations, he helped to develop a new assault plan, designating targets in the new attack. When his platoon leader was mortally wounded, James went to his aid and was himself killed by machine gun fire. PFC James was buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in the Dutch town of Margraten. His grave can be found in plot P, row 9, grave 9.

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

PFC James had received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge prior to his death. Posthumously, he was awarded the Medal of Honor (as of September 23, 2006), the World War II Victory Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Army Good Conduct Medal. On January 13, 1997, PFC James' Medal of Honor was presented to widow by President Bill Clinton, in a White House ceremony in which six other African-American soldiers were also awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during World War II.

Combat Infantry Badge.svg
A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Combat Infantry Badge
Medal of Honor
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit | edit source]

For extraordinary heroism on April 7, 1945, near Lippoldsberg, Germany. As lead scout during a maneuver, Pvt. James was the first to draw enemy fire. He was pinned down for over an hour, during which time he observed enemy positions In detail. Returning to his platoon, he assisted in working out a new plan of maneuver. He then led a squad in the assault, accurately designating targets as he advanced, until he was killed by enemy machine gun fire while going to the aid of his fatally wounded platoon leader.

Namesake and honors[edit | edit source]

On November 4, 2001, the 7th U.S. Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) Reserve Center in Bamberg, Germany was dedicated to the memory of PFC Willy F. James, Jr.[1] The center houses the 301st Rear Operations Center, the 345th Rear Area Operations Center, the 1172nd Movement Control Team, and their Regional Support Detachment.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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