James J. Kay
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 07/22/1943 - 12/11/1945
Machine Gunner, 37 Infantry Division

James was born in a log house in Provencal, Louisiana, as one of twelve children of Peyton Grant and Libby LaBusee Cobb Grant. His father was employed by Weaver Brothers Sawmill as a log cutter and also worked the family's 47-acre farm. James helped his father in the fields where they plowed with horses and mules. When the elder Kay died, James, then 13, took over the plowing, hitching up Rube, the mule, and Charlie, a horse. James graduated from Provencal High School in 1942. He left soon afterward to build Higgins boats in New Orleans, where he lived in a boarding house on Tulane Avenue. James was drafted in 1943 and was sent to Camp Wolters near Mineral Wells, Texas. He stood six feet, six inches, and weighed 132 pounds. James was placed in the 37th Division and sailed to the Solomon Islands, where he was based on Bougainville for eight months. There, serving as a machine gunner, he went on patrols, searching for Japanese holdouts from earlier fighting. James participated in the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines and was wounded by shrapnel near Clark Field. Later, he earned a Bronze Star when he pulled a wounded soldier to safety during a firefight. James came home on a Liberty ship and was discharged at Camp Fannin near Tyler, Texas, on December 11, 1945. He returned to Provencal and worked at logging, then attended LeTourneau Technical Institute, in Longview, Texas, where he trained as a machinist. He worked at that industry until 1964 when he moved to Shreveport. There he worked for Reilly Beard a machine shop, until he retired in 1989. James married Delores Sparks on September 2, 1955. They have three children (one deceased) and five grandchildren.