Edman L. James
Motor Machinist Mate 2nd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 04/13/1944 - 09/02/1950
Motor Machinist Mate, USS Meriwether
Audio Samples

Red was born in Maud, Oklahoma, the son of a tank builder who followed oil booms. The family was in Shreveport when World War II interrupted his high school education. He entered service in 1944 at age seventeen, trained as an engineer on Higgins boats, and sailed into the Pacific on the USS Meriwetherr (APA-203). The vessel transported carried landing craft, including twenty-four LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel) and two LCMs (Landing Craft, Mechanized). While not serving on Higgins boats, Red manned a five-inch gun aboard ship, and often spent sixteen-hours days in the boiler room where temperatures often reached 120 degrees. Red helped land the second wave in the invasion of Okinawa. "The first day at Okinawa was a breeze to me," he recalls. "It was just beautiful weather and Easter Sunday and everything just went like it was supposed to. Nobody shot at us." He stayed on his Higgins boat for "a week or so," each time, often loading cargo from other ships in a pitching sea. The Meriwether also served as a transport ship. "We were going from island to island like a truck delivering stuff," he says. He spent long stretches at sea, once not receiving mail for four months. Letters he wrote were sometimes heavily censored. "We couldn't mention the weather or what you did or where you were," he says. "One of them said, `Dear Mom' and at the bottom it said, `Your loving son' or `I'm fine' in another sentence." During the Okinawa campaign kamikazes attacked the Meriwether and two nearby ships. Both were burning while Meriwether gunners downed a suicide plane only one hundred yards off the starboard side. In Japan, Red saw the atomic devastation of Nagasaki, and a bay "full of dead bodies." After the war he was assigned to a fleet tug in New Orleans to pull decommissioned ships to Lake Charles for mothballing. He next served as chief engineer on a yard oiler. Red was discharged in May of 1946 in New Orleans. He graduated from Fair Park High School in 1947. Joining the Naval Reserves, he served in the Korean War as an engineer on an LCM aboard the USS Andromeda. (AKA-15). In his civilian career he worked mainly for banks and printing companies. He retired in 1993.