James W. Williamson
U. S. Marines
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 08/28/1943 - 01/26/1946
Trained as a sniper., 3rd Marine Division

He was born in Belcher, Louisiana, to Earl G. Williamson and Mamie Greer. The family soon moved to Vivian, where his father bought the Chevrolet dealership, and served as mayor for twelve years. James remembers riding his horse to the "picture show" each Saturday. After graduating from Vivian High School in 1943, he volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps. "I thought they were tougher than most and I liked the uniforms," he says of his decision. He was shipped to Guadalcanal for more training. He saw the First Lady "from a distance" when she toured the Pacific, and recalls Betty Hutton, a movie star, coming to entertain them. "We hadn't seen a white woman in so long, a guy ran through camp saying, "White women. White women." He recalls the day she performed was about 120 degrees. "Her makeup had run all down her face," he says. James was assigned to Headquarters Company, Second Battalion, Third Regiment, Third Marine Division. He fought on Guam and remembers patrolling daily. He made extra money selling items taken from Japanese to Air Force personnel. He killed a Japanese soldier in a hand-to-hand struggle in a foxhole. "Jumped in my foxhole on me," he says. James grabbed an M-1 rifle. "I shot him, and with the first shot the clip fell out in the mud," he says. Trained as a sniper, he also killed a Japanese soldier at long range. On Iwo Jima he evacuated wounded onto a ship. James was injured in a fall during the battle and was sent to Fleet Hospital 115 in Guam, where surgeons operated on his knee. He heard the war ended when he and other wounded were being flown in an ambulance plane above Pearl Harbor. "The captain of the ship opened a bottle and fixed us all a little drink," he recalls. Back in the states he returned to duty at New Orleans Naval Ammunition Depot, where he was discharged. Later, back in college at Northwestern State, he earned a business administration degree and lettered in tennis. After college he and his brother bought out their dad's car dealership. James married Helen Hale on September 25, 1949. He served as mayor of Vivian for fifteen years. James in later years has remained active with golf, hunting, bowling, and working in his church.