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For James Alexander “Duke” Samouce was born into a large, well educated, land-owning White Russian family in Poltava, the Ukraine, and grandson of Russian Orthodox priests. The disastrous Russo-Japanese war changed what would have been a privileged life. His parents, convinced of perilous times ahead for Russia and desiring future security for their children decided to emigrate, first to Ontario, Canada and ultimately to Lynchburg, Virginia.
Duke graduated at 19 from West Point in 1920 in the short two-year World War I course. His promotion was very slow during the deceptive peace doldrums before WWII. He had been a Lieutenant for 15 years, a Captain for 5 by 1940, and then rose to Colonel in two-and-a-half years because of the rapid expansion of the Army.
Duke taught math and physics at West Point from 1928—34; was G-4, Alaska Defense Command from 1941—42, flying all over Alaska overseeing rapid expansion of our defenses and was with the Naval Commander during the Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor. In 1942—43 he was Operations Officer, Field Artillery School, Ft Sill, Oklahoma, which had expanded sixty-fold to 6,000 students; he digested artillery reports from all battle zones and infused newly-learned principles into the curriculum. August—November 1943 he was sent to Camp Livingston, Louisiana, to take the 46th FA Brigade overseas when it completed its third attempt to qualify. It failed again and was disbanded. So, back to Ft. Sill to be Executive, School Troops Brigade. Finally, in December 1944 he was given command of the 431st FA Group of five battalions at Camp Gruber, OK, prepared it for overseas by April 1945, but VE-Day followed soon after and the battalions were shipped piecemeal to the Pacific Theater. Duke remained to demobilize the 417th FA Group and other troops returning from Europe, and to train two Chemical Battalions.
In November 1945, Duke was ordered to occupation duty in Germany. Duke suffered a painful ruptured disk and was taken by stretcher on a round trip to Frankfurt, then back to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco. In October 1946 he married Mrs. Elton Foote Hall Hunter, widow of Lt. Col. Richard G. Hunter, who had been a prisoner in the Philippines and ultimately lost his life when the prisoner transport ship Arisan Maru was sunk by U.S. torpedoes.
In December 1946 after his release from Letterman Hospital, Duke was assigned to Vienna, Austria as the Deputy US Commander, Vienna Inter-Allied Command with continual 4-Power conferences.
In August 1950 Duke was assigned to Ft Meade, Maryland as the Deputy G-4, Second Army during the rearming and conduct of the Korean conflict. Duke retired July 31, 1953 after 33 years of active Army service.