Frank L. James
Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 02/11/1943 - 03/23/1946
Aviation Ordnanceman

"I wanted to go into the service so bad," recalls Frank, who attended summer school so he could graduate from high school early and join the U.S. Navy. He was motivated especially by the loss of two friends, one at Pearl Harbor. Frank was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, one of two sons to Frank and Joy Lee Guedon James. His father was an engineer for Missouri-Pacific Railroad. After summer school in 1942, Frank graduated from Bolton High School that December. Soon after his parents signed his enlistment papers (he was only 17) Frank entered service on February 11, 1943 and was sent to boot camp in San Diego. Later, after finishing aviation ordnance school in Norman, Oklahoma, he volunteered for flight training and gunnery training and was sent to Purcell, Oklahoma, and then to Jacksonville, Florida. Sent to the Carrier Aircraft Service Unit (CASU1), he was stationed in Hawaii at Ford Island where he helped prepare and check out machine guns for planes such as the F6F Hellcat and the SB2C Hell Diver. There he also passed the competitive examination for flight school. He was sent to Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he took college courses, and then to St. Mary's College in Walnut Creek, California for pilot training. Frank washed out in navigation training and was sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Station to escort draftees to the west coast. He was then ordered to Dahlgren, Virginia, where he went on bombing "hops" to check out new equipment. Frank left the service after the war and "almost went nuts," he says. He worked at his uncle's saw mill before joining the merchant marines and becoming an officer. He met his future wife, Monique Berthet, aboard a ship. (They would have four daughters.) After their marriage the couple lived in Santiago, Chile, where he worked for the Braden Cooper Company. They returned in 1960 to Shreveport where he worked as senior lubrication engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation.