Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran James Walter Hale, who served during World War II and the Korean War.
James Walter Hale was born in Pikeville, Tennessee, in April 1926. He grew up with five brothers and three sisters. After he turned 18, the Army drafted him and sent him to Camp Blanding, Florida, where he spent 17 weeks in basic training. Afterward, Hale went to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and then to the United Kingdom aboard USS Wakefield. He served with the 357th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division, which deployed to Luxembourg.
Hale joined his division in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bulge. The division attacked the Siegfried Line, breaking through the Germans’ defenses in February 1945. After this, the division advanced across the Rhine River, liberated Czechoslovakia and then returned to Germany as a part of the occupation force. When the 90th Infantry Division returned to the U.S., Hale went to the 1st Infantry Division in Nuremburg, Germany. He served as a prison and guarded the Nazi war criminals involved in the Nuremburg trials. While in Germany, Hale studied at a school established by his division, since he had only finished two years of high school. In June 1946, Hale left the Army as a private first class.
When Hale returned home, he finished high school, graduating with the class of 1947. He attended the University of Tennessee, majoring in mechanical engineering. Hale also joined the school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, wanting to become an officer should he ever return to military service. He graduated from college and started working at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
In September 1951, Hale commissioned as a first lieutenant for the Korean War. He went to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for officer training and to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for combat engineer training. In April 1952, he departed for Chuncheon, Korea, to served with the 2nd Infantry Division, 2nd Engineering Battalion. He was a platoon leader tasked with missions like maintaining roads and building bridges in the Iron Triangle area. After 17 months in Korea, Hale left the Army as a first lieutenant.
During his service, Hale received two Bronze Stars. After his return to the U.S., he continued working at AEDC for 37 years. In December 2013, Hale passed away at 87 years old.
We honor his service.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Nathaniel Scott
Editors: Theresa Lyon and Julia Pack
Fact checker: Giacomo Ferrari
Graphic artist: Brittany Gorski