Jim was born November 24, 1925 in Bayonne, NJ. His father died in 1930, leaving his mother to raise him, his three brothers, and six sisters. He attended local schools, received his high school diploma, and entered the Army in March 1944. He had IRTC (Infantry Replacement Training Center) training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, SC, then proceeded to Ft. Jackson where he was assigned to the 87th. The 87th passed through his hometown when they were shipping out via Camp Kilmer.
Jim was wounded near Neuenstein, Germany. He was sent to a hospital in Paris, but says: "It was rough on a 19 year old who didn't smoke or drink and not too fond of chocolate ... don't know how I was able to recuperate."
Jim was discharged from the Army on December 15, 1945 at Camp Upton, Patchogue, Long Island. He married his wife, the former Dolly Tagliareni, in 1949. They have two sons, and two grandsons. He retired in 1982 after working for 35 years as a mailman for the Bayonne Post Office. Says Jim: "It seems the Acorn patch on my shoulder ended up in my heart, for I feel blessed to have friends in the 87th.''
What the heck kind of password is that! I was a member of a small night patrol out on reconnaissance in the Ardennes in Belgium. After a brief skirmish with a German machine gun outpost, we headed back towards our lines. On the way back, we were challenged by an American machine gun outpost. In the confusion of battle, none of our patrol members remembered the password. What ever made me answer this way I'll never know. I yelled out, "We are American. We don't know the password, but if you are a G.I. we'll kiss your f*c***g a*s." We were allowed to enter our lines.
The irony of this incident fell into place 40 years later at our annual Division reunion. While chitchatting with my buddies from E Company, this incident came up. I never knew the G.I. sentry who challenged our patrol that night. To my amazement, Bud Black from Kokomo, Indiana, told me he was that sentry. His finger was ready to squeeze the trigger on his machine gun when he heard my reply to his challenge. The language convinced him we were American G.I.'s. I hesitated to tell this story because of the language. In reality, though, it saved our lives.
The Second Battalion jumped off at 1500. On February 26th 1945, Company E led the way followed by F and G. Their supporting tanks and tank destroyers moved up behind, utilizing an alternate route. An hour and a half later E Company was held up in a draw one kilometer east of the jump off point. Snipers opened fire, and soon mortar shells began dropping all over the area inflicting numerous casualties.
Lt John Ford, Gatonia,North Carolina, Tech Sergeant Vernon E Howe, Muscatine Iowa, and one squad of men pushed across a creek and an open field to the next patch of woods. The Germans let the one squad cross. then opened fire with mortars and machine guns, the opening later proved to be the Germans final protective line with crossfire where E company was attempting to cross.
The creek afforded protection for several of E Company's wonded until they were able to be evacuated.. Lt. Ford and his squad stayed in the booby trapped woods until evening when he could safely infiltrate his men back. An attempt to move to another area was thwarted by a booby -trapped field. Company F moved up to reinforce Company E's lines and protect their flank. I was part of the squad that crossed the creek. I was wounded here by sniper early afternoon, and didn't get out to late that evening.