James E. Boddie
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 11/13/1943 - 03/27/1946
Rigger, 187th Engineer Combat Battalion

He was born in Bear Creek Community in Bienville Parish as one of six sons of James and Mary Frances McCurrie Boddie. On the family farm, the Boddies lived in a dogtrot house and raised and canned vegetables. "There wasn't any money, but we ate like kings," he says. The family moved to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for three years, living near Rangerville while his father ran a gin in Harlingen. Returning to Bienville Parish young James finished high school in 1942 and entered the U.S. Army. He took basic training at Camp White in Medford, Oregon, and then was assigned to Company B, 3rd Platoon, of the 187th Engineer Combat Battalion. At Camp Houze in Gainesville, Texas, he learned to build pontoon and Bailey bridges--skills he honed, along with clearing minefields, on maneuvers near Elkins, West Virginia. After additional instructions at Camp Pickett, Virginia, he sailed to Ireland, underwent more training, and then arrived in France in summer of 1944. On the first day in France he helped clear a minefield. That winter, serving with the 3rd Army, he joined the effort to break the siege at Bastogne. "It took us about eight or ten days to get there," he recalls. "It was just a constant roar of artillery." To keep warm, he wrapped his feet in newspapers and potato sacks, but still suffered frostbite. "Each foot was the size of a gallon bucket," he says. From Bastogne his unit was sent to Roermond, Holland to join the British 8th Army, and later to Belgium as part of the 9th Army. He helped build a bridge over the Rhine, and was strafed by a German jet. Enemy artillery pinned him down for three days while trying to bridge a canal near Dusseldorf. Finally they were able to work at night by muffling the sounds with rags. Near war's end in Germany they liberated a concentration camp. James remained in Europe until March of 1946, where he was an eyewitness to the automobile accident that fatally injured General George S. Patton, Jr. "I could tell his neck was broken," he says. After his discharged on March 27, 1946 at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, James worked first as a mechanic in Shreveport, next for Sears & Roebuck, and then for Central Motors until he retired. He married Barbara Ann Moore on February 10, 1950. They had three children and three grandchildren. On February 7, 1994, he married Jean Brown.