Monday, May 31, 2021

Tribute to Uncle Jimmy

This is my third post about Uncle Jimmy...each on Memorial Day, last time was five years ago.  
My morning started out with a call from my cousin Cassie shortly after 9 am, she lives in the Kansas City area.  She told me a story about how a 'high school' sweetheart and her had been communicating via the Internet, and she mentioned how Uncle Jimmy had died during a Kamikaze attack while serving on the Bunker Hill Aircraft Carrier.  He responds, "My dad served on the Bunker Hill....I wonder if they knew each other?"  Well, like most WW2 veterans, his father had passed we will never know.  Small world this is...and had they known that back in the late '60s when Cassie and he knew each other in High School, well, the full story could be told even better.  By-the-way...Cassie's old boy friend served 21 years in the United States Army Special Forces, including in Viet Nam (now known as Vietnam).  [THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE SIR!]  The picture above is my Uncle Harold (Cassie's father) on the left, and Uncle Jimmy on the right.
Bunker Hill hit by Kamikaze
Uncle Jimmy was the only Uncle I never met…most of my cousins on my mom’s side never met him either.  We all KNEW Uncle Jimmy, we all heard stories, we all saw the few pictures there were of him.  Most of us remember the small memorial that Grandma Cline had in her living room with a picture of Uncle Jimmy, and if I recall correctly, the purple heart they gave Grandma (although the purple heart might have been in a drawer nearby).  We can probably remember reading the letter from the government about his service, about his death...and how grateful they were for his service, and his ultimate sacrifice.

Above is the Bunker Hill burning after two Kamikazes hit the ship on May 11, 1945 in less than a minute.  The attack killed nearly 400 men.  An account of the battle and the burial, which is the longest burial at sea in U.S. Navy history, can be found at THIS WEBSITE (which will open in a new tab or window).  Less than four months later, September 2nd, formal surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri, designating the day as the official Victory over Japan Day, Uncle Jimmy almost made it ...

Below is what I wrote about Uncle Jimmy back on Memorial Day, 2016.

Jimmy was born in 1920, the fifth of eleven children, Jimmy was 21 years old when Pearl Harbor took place.  His brother Harold (Cassie's dad) was at Pearl Harbor that day, and we are so thankful that he was able to go back to Hawaii and be honored shortly before he passed away.  Jimmy was not as lucky as his brothers who all survived the war.  Jimmy died on May 11th, 1945, aboard the USS Bunker Hill, an Essex Class Aircraft Carrier which was hit by two Kamikaze Pilots on that day, taking the lives of 346 Sailors, including my Uncle Jimmy.

Purple Heart
I have vivid memories of visiting my mother’s mother, Grandma Cline, as a child.  She lived in San Jose, when San Jose was just a small city…long time before Silicon Valley was even thought of.  She had a picture of Uncle Jimmy in her living room, and I saw the purple heart, the letter from the United States Government, and I felt the loss that took place so many years earlier.  A family might “get over it”, but they never forget.  And as this great generation dies off, it is up to us to never forget either.
WW2 Memorial

I have been to Washington DC many times in my life, and as soon as the WW2 Memorial opened, I visited it on my next visit.  It is a wonderful memorial, and includes a registry of each and every member of the military who died in the war.  

WW2 Memorial Registry 

My Uncle is one of so many who gave his life for this nation, for us who live here.  I only hope that this sacrifice is never forgotten, and always remembered from generation to generation.  God Bless this wonderful country, may his mercy continue to be with us, may our leaders NEVER forget, and NEVER EVER let these fine men and women who gave this ultimate sacrifice down.

Below is a Memorial Certificate.  At the Honolulu Memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery, which is shown below the certificate.


Note:  Uncle Jimmy was one of 111,606 dead or missing Americans fighting Japan in WW2