By Jennifer Martin - email
James Causey grew up on a farm near Liberty as the oldest of 5 children.
"It really helped me when I came into service because I was used to hard work."
He was drafted into the army in October 1944.
"We trained on the M1 rifle. And that's what I went in as, combat. I was a rifleman in combat. Went to Hawaii, and into Saipan, and then to Okinowa. He was part of the 96th Infantry Division. I got to Okinowa on 1 May. That was exactly a month after the invasion. Our ship docked at the same place they docked for the invasion. It was at night. We could hear the artillery and everything and we knew that we were going to be in combat."
He remembers one of his first nights in combat, as they advanced, taking Conical Hill.
"I knew that we could be killed at anytime, you know. And there was no way to avoid going because we were committed. It rained that night. And the artillery kept... It was a constant barrage of artillery. And we had several men wounded and we were in the foxholes. Early in the morning we heard a sound we thought was a dog. But it turned out to be a little boy. And his parents had been killed and he was by himself and he was wimpering."
The child looked to be only 3 years old. The soldiers cleaned him up and fed him.
"Later that afternoon when I went back to get the water, I saw him on the hood of a jeep, going with other civilians and he smiled. And he's been with me all these years since."
Also burned in his memory was the time he was injured in a grenade attack.
"We were so close to the enemy, we couldn't use our rifles. We were throwing grenades. And we couldn't dig in because of the coral. So what we did, we just piled coral up to get behind and it was sometime in the wee hours of the morning that the grenade fragments came through that and hit me in the face here and in the arm. When I saw the flash and I knew it was close, I threw my arm up. And the biggest piece hit here and it saved my eye.
The first thing, of course, I thought I was killed. And then I couldn't see. I thought I was blinded and then I wiped my face. But then the pain and the heat was just overwhelming and I started to fade away. And then I just lay there until daylight.
After the war, we left Okinowa. We loaded on LST's, landing ship tanks, and that was part of the preparation for the invasion of Japan. And we went down to Mendora, to take mountain warfare training on Mendora. And the war ended, and I stayed in the Phillipines until September. And I was assigned to 86th Division, a railroad car detatchment. And we provided the safety and security services for the railroad."
Causey was discharged in November 1946. But he soon went back to the military. He would go on to serve in Korea and later, Vietnam, as part of the Medical Service Corp. He ended up working for the Surgeon General's Office in the nation's capitol before he retired in 1973.
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