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First Name: Willy

Last Name: James

Birthplace: Kansas City, MO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Kansas City, MO
Middle Name: F.

Date of Birth: 18 March 1920

Date of Death: 08 April 1945

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1942-1945
Willy F. James, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Willy F. James, Jr.
Private First Class, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Private First Class Willy F. James, Jr. (18 March 1920 - 8 April 1945) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II. He was one of seven African-American soldiers who were belatedly awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton on 13 January 1997.

Willy F. James, Jr. was born on 18 March 1920 in Kansas City, MO. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on 11 September 1942. He was an infantry scout assigned to Company G, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division in April 1945. On 7 April 1945, he was lead scout during a maneuver to secure a bridgehead near Lippoldsberg, Germany. As his regiment crossed the Weser River, he was pinned down for more than an hour by enemy machine gun fire. When he was able to return to his platoon with his scouting observations, he helped to develop a new assault plan, designating targets in the new attack. When his platoon leader was mortally wounded, James went to his aid and was himself killed by machine gun fire.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company G, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division.

Place and Date: Near Lippoldsberg, Germany, 7 April 1945.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism in action on 7 April 1945 near Lippoldsberg, Germany. As lead scout during a maneuver to secure and expand a vital bridgehead, Private First Class 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. Private First Class James' fearless, self-assigned actions, coupled with his diligent devotion to duty exemplified the finest traditions of the Armed Forces.

On 13 January 1997, PFC James' Medal of Honor was presented to his widow by President Bill Clinton, in a White House ceremony in which six other African-American soldiers were also belatedly awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions during World War II.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal

Combat Infantryman Badge

Death and Burial

Private First Class Willy F. James, Jr. was killed in action on 8 April 1945. He is buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands. James' grave can be found in Plot P, Row 9, Grave 9.

Honoree ID: 1455   Created by: MHOH




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