Willy F. James, Jr. – April 7th in African American History

April 7, 1945 Willy F. James, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient, was killed in action.

James was born March 18, 1920 in Kansas City, Missouri. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1942 and by April 7, 1945 was an infantry scout assigned to Company G, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division. His actions on that day earned him the medal. His citation partially reads: “As lead scout during a maneuver, Pvt. James was the first to draw enemy fire. He was pinned down for over an hour, during which time he observed enemy positions in detail. Returning to his platoon, he assisted in working out a new plan of maneuver.

He then led a squad in the assault, accurately designating targets as he advanced, until he was killed by enemy machine gun fire while going to the aid of his fatally wounded platoon leader.” The Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, was presented to his widow on January 13, 1997 by President William Clinton. In 2001, the 7th U. S. Army Reserve Command Reserve Center in Bamberg, Germany was dedicated to James’ memory.

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