James Dickey of Anderson is still active and serving at 94. He is the vice chairman of the Housing Authority in Anderson and also a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.
He was drafted into the Army in May 1943, just after graduating from Pineville High School. He went to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and rode a troop train to Camp Roberts, Calif., for 17 weeks of basic training. From there, he went to Fort Ord, Calif., where he stayed for a year before going overseas to the war. He was promoted to corporal.
He was shipped to Buna, New Guinea, and from there to Aitape, New Guinea, where he joined up with the 128th regiment and was promoted to sergeant over a light machine gun squad, he said. He was on the front lines. From Aitape, his unit boarded a ship to Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, and then on to Leyte in the Philippines in November 1944. They went to Luzon, Philippines, in January 1945, and he recalls his unit being in the mountains and surrounded by Japanese but managing to get away. He served in Luzon until the war's end. He recalls, at one point, finding himself in charge of 200 prisoners.
He was sent to Japan, where he was in charge of some guards at a naval base. By that time, he was a platoon sergeant.
At Christmas of 1945, Dickey returned to the United States, landing in Los Angeles and taking a train back to Leavenworth. He was discharged the second or third week of January, he said, but signed up to be a reservist.
He worked at a motel in Joplin and then went with a friend to Fresno, Calif., where he worked for Western Electric. He was working the night shift and didn't like it, so he volunteered and went back to Fort Ord and stayed almost a year before returning to Havenhurst and working for his brother-in-law.
In June 1950, he married his wife, Gladys Mae. But, soon after, he was called to active duty in Korea. After some basic training at Fort Hood in Texas, he was sent to Fort Ord and put on a ship to Japan and then to Korea.
He was seriously wounded in Korea. He said a shot went over his head and his training told him to either turn left or right because the next shot was likely to hit him. He had just started to turn when the shot hit. He was struck in the right lung, right thigh, below the right knee, left arm and across the back of his neck.
"I had a towel and I wrapped that around my neck. I didn't have anything else. My boots were almost full of blood," he said.
They were in the mountains and they had to walk out. Two others were wounded, he said. They got to an aid station and medics bandaged him up. He was taken to a Korean hospital, where doctors discovered his lung was collapsed. He was flown to Japan and treated at a hospital and then put on a plane to Hawaii, where he stayed at another hospital overnight. They took him, the whole time on a stretcher, and put him on another plane back to the mainland, but it lost an engine part of the way back and had to turn around. The plane left the next day and landed in El Paso, Texas, he said. He tells people he has been to Hawaii but has never set foot on it because he was on a stretcher the whole time.
He ended up in a hospital in Indiana and stayed there for several months. From there he was assigned to Camp Breckenridge, Ky., to the officer's club, before being discharged in November 1951.
"As long as you're patriotic, you've got to be there and do it," he said of his military service. "I've never complained."
After his military service, he worked for Safeway in Joplin and then returned to California, where he worked for North American Aviation at the Fresno Airport for five years. He worked in Joplin at Rocketdyne for 10 years -- until it closed -- and then for Teledyne.
In 1971, the local agent at Standard Oil was quitting and he decided to take over the business. He went to school in Fremont, Va., worked three or four years and then bought the land and tanks and became a jobber. He did that until 1992 or 1993 when his wife became ill and he retired to stay home and take care of her. She died in 1994.
He has one daughter and three sons.
General News on 05/09/2019
Print Headline: WWII, Korean Vet Active At 94