Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran James Day Merle Holmes, who served as a signal support system specialist during the Korean War.
Originally from Hastings, Minnesota, James Holmes enlisted in the Army in 1946 while still in high school. After attending basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he went to Japan in December 1946 as part of the Allied power’s post-war occupation and rehabilitation of the Japanese state. Holmes served at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa as a signal corps soldier.
Holmes returned to the U.S. to serve as an honor guard member at Oakland Army Base in California. After his discharge in 1948, he worked at a car dealership in Minnesota before he joined the Minnesota National Guard. On December 26, 1950, the Army activated Holmes’ company for service in the Korean War. He promoted to first sergeant and joined Company D of the 135th Infantry Regiment. The regiment went to Camp Rucker, Alabama, for combat training. Holmes then transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia to take basic training courses. Later, he went to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, for a leadership training course. After completing the course, he stayed on as an instructor.
On March 10, 1951, Holmes married Iona Huberty and reassigned to the Far East Command. He left for South Korea in June. After his arrival, he joined Company B of the 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division based in Pusan. Holmes’ regiment worked closely with the Turkish Brigade that served with the United Nations Command. During this time, Holmes conducted field artillery training and went on daily patrols.
A month after becoming platoon sergeant, Holmes became the master sergeant of the 35th Infantry Regiment in the fall of 1951. The 35th Infantry Regiment was based south of Osan and was involved in the numerous battles in the area called “The Iron Triangle.” In the Kumhwa valley near the front line, Holmes’ regiment acted as a buffer to prevent the Korean People’s Army from breaching the region south of Pyongyang. Holmes remained with the 35th Infantry Regiment until the spring of 1952.
After returning, Holmes finished his high school education in 1954. He later worked as a journalist for a St. Paul newspaper in Minnesota and briefly worked for the Army as a civilian before joining the a manufacturing company until retirement. Holmes also continued to serve in the National Guard until 1988 when he retired as a chief warrant officer.
During his service, Holmes received the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Korean Service Medal with two bronze service stars and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
Holmes passed away in November 2013 at the age of 84.
We honor his service.
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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/.
Fact checker: Rachel Heimann
Graphic artist: Lillian Vo