Salute to Major James Lovell

Author: Kungo Iwai
Puka Puka Parades, February 1952, vol. 5 no. 11

Saluting James Lovell with a brief description of Major Lovell in WWII.

It was in the chill of one early evening at the hillside village of San Michele that the Major returned to the front after recovering from wounds. Morale was low when the men down from the barren snow covered hills of Radicosa and Venafro, but the return of the major had an electrifying boost to the morale of the men for they had suffered the cold, snow, and the loss of several of their comrades. The Major didn’t have to speak; his return to the battalion now dwindled by casualties was enough to bring hope and new spirit among the haggard assortment of very tired men.

Most of the men didn’t know that the major was born in Hastings, Nebraska; that he attended the Nebraska State Teachers College and the university of Hawaii. Some of the men knew him well because they weretaught by him at Washington Intermediate School.

The daring assault for formidable Cassino began. The men crept down into the Liri Valley from San Michele led by the Major.In waist-deep mud generously sprinkled with deadly mines, along rocky trails, defilades, and ledges the men attacked. In the tumult of battle the major was hit, this time seriously. The War Department had awarded him the Silver Star and a cluster to his Purple Heart. The men never saw the major again after Cassino.

Perhaps during the dreary, drizzling night when the battalion still fresh slushed along to seize the high hills overlooking Benevento, the Major must have thought deeply about his wife Genevieve, and his two children Maile Jean and James Jr., but in the excitement of men scrambling for cover he never showed his concern. The men forded the Colore and through his leadership and the divine guidance of Providence the shells never struck home and some never exploded. The men were all safe and dug in by the next morning and the Major, pipe in his mouth, puffed away tired but calm.

The battle over, the men came home to be demobilized. The Major was home too, he had survived his wounds. Together they organized a club, a union of men borne in combat to bind their memories, hopes, and comradeship. The men elected him president to the 1947-48 term. Later they charged him with the responsibilities of having their history written, and a building erected.

It is with deep respect and admiration that the Puka Puka Parade and the men of the 100th in this issue salute the Major, James Lovell, now Assistant Lumber Department Manager at Lewers & Cooke , Ltd.