By Jennifer Martin - email
James Tynes was 20 years-old and living in Lawrence County when he was drafted into the Marines. After boot camp in San Diego, he shipped off to the south Pacific.
"I don't know how my lucky name got on artillery. Of course, I didn't know what an artillery piece was then. But that's what I ended up in. And I figured I could save my life. Of course it wasn't every infantry man that lived, that went in combat that we went in," Tynes said.
He was part of the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine division. His first assignment, was the Battle of Peleliu.
"Most people don't even know about that island, but it was hell on wheels. Aboard ship we were seeing how bad they were shelling and bombing the island. And we figured there would be nothing to it. We'd just walk in, walk out. That was the information we got, a two day blitz. It was more like a month."
The bombardment really only destroyed some Japanese Aircraft and buildings surrounding the airfield. The Japanese remained in their fortified positions, ready to attack as the came ashore.
"It was kill him or he'll kill you."
The battle of Peleliu would have one of the highest casualty rates of any battle in the Pacific.
"There was over 60% of the men who didn't come back, in the infantry."
Tynes would go Okinowa next. But he would stay only about a month.
"We were still on Okinowa when they dropped the bomb. It was supposed to be secured. We was mopping up," Tynes added.
He went to China until he had enough points to head home. Food was a welcome sight when he returned stateside.
"Cause we hadn't had no meals or much food at all and it was available there. We ate up some junk, drank some milk."
After the war, he got married and went into the dairy business. He never had to want for milk again. He suffers some hearing loss from his time in artillery and he still keeps in touch with some of his fellow Marines.
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