Alley, Jr, James, S/Sgt

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Last Rank
Staff Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1942-1945, 745, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment /E Company
Service Years
1942 - 1945

Staff Sergeant

One Service Stripe

Two Overseas Service Bars

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by LTC Roger Gaines (ATWS Chief Admin) to remember Alley, Jr, James ("MO"), S/Sgt.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Mount Ida

Date of Passing
Mar 14, 2008
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Belgian Fourragere Netherlands Orange Lanyard Honorably Discharged WW II Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961

French Fourragere

 Unofficial Badges 


 Military Association Memberships
Military Order of the Purple Heart
  1944, Military Order of the Purple Heart - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
506th PIR Co. E, 2nd Battalion (Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne )

Enlisted in 1942. Earned three Purple Heart's and a�Bronze Star. Discharged from service in 1945 and later moved to California to live with family members. Moved to Washington in 1951.

James H. Alley, Jr., 85, a resident of Sedro-Woolley and died on Friday, March 14, 2008. Jim was born on July 20, 1922 in Mount Ida, AR,� s/o Grace V. (Davis) & James H. Alley who owned Henry Alley Hardware's store in Mt. Ida in 1930 (census). It had a hitching rail in front to tie up horses. Jim was raised and attended school in Arkansas and from there in 1942 enlisted into the U.S. Army during WW II where he was a paratrooper with the 101st Air Borne Division. He joined the company in Toccoa shortly after it had been formed and remained with it through the war. Jim was depicted in the HBO mini series "The Band of Brothers", telling the story of the 101st Division's D'Day jump into Germany and the battles they encountered, and Jim was one of the few to make it to Hitler's retreat. He was the recipient of three Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars for his service in Normandy, Central Europe, Rhineland and Ardennes. After he got wounded he decided that when he had to face combat again, it was going to be with E-Company. He felt that E-Company was the greatest bunch of guys in the world. After his discharge in 1945 he moved with his family to California, living there until 1951 when he moved to Washington. Jim was a general contractor, mostly in the King County area, remodeling and building homes and commercial buildings. Memorial Services with Military Honors were held on Saturday, March 22, 2008 at the First Baptist Church in Sedro-Woolley with Pastor Kirby Bertholf officiating.

You were one of the original members of the company, weren't you?
Yes, I joined the company in Toccoa shortly after it had been formed and remained with it through the war.

Didn't you receive one of your wounds during the Holland operation?
Yes, I was wounded on the Island on October 5. If it weren't for Joe Lesniewski, I would not be here today. I was shooting at a German, and I felt this thud. Joe shoved me and yelled, "Grenade!". His warning gave me just enough time to turn my body from the blast. The next thing I remember was coming to and running around. Rod Strohl got me out of there and back to the company.

Your wounds almost ended your time with Company E, didn't they?
Almost. After two months in the hospital recovering from the grenade blast, I was sent to a replacement depot. I knew I would be assigned to another company. "No way", I thought. "I am not going back into combat with another unit". If I had to face combat again, it was going to be with Easy Company. So I decided to go AWOL.

How did you make it back to Company E after you had been away for two months?
I sold my German luger to get a little money and set off for Paris. I knew that if I could make it to Paris, I would find somebody in the 101st, and they could direct me to Easy. Well, after I got to Paris, who should I see walking down the street but Dick Winters. He looked at me and said. "Alley, what in the hell are you doing here?" I said, "Looking for you, sir". Winters found me transport back to the company. I arrived at Mourmelon on December 15.

That was just a few days before the regiment was alerted to travel up to Bastogne. How did you react to the news of the breakthrough when it reached Mourmelon-le-Grand?
I had only been back for two days when we got the word of the breakthrough. We were all a little stunned at first. I didn't see how we could go anywhere in the condition we were in. I didn't even have a gun at first. Finally, somebody issued me one, but I didn't have much ammunition. After the shock of the alert wore off, however, we were all just a little resigned. I remember a lot of the guys saying, "Here we go again".

What was the ride up to the front like, and how did you react when you saw GIs streaming to the rear?
The ride up was pretty rough. You had to stand up most of the time; you could not sit down. It was miserable, but we had to cope with it. It was worse because we had no idea where we were going. We didn't really travel through Bastogne. I believe we sort of cut around it and then headed up the road toward Foy. As we went down that road, we could hear shellfire, small arms, machine guns and everything else. We were heading toward it, and coming in the other direction were all these other guys. They were literally running. They were shouting at us: "Man, you don't want to go up there. They are just running us over". Most of them had already thrown away their guns, but I was able to get ammunition from one or two of them. We were pretty upset with these guys, and we told them that they were going in the wrong damn direction. There was no stopping them, though; they were just scared to death. Finally, an officer came up in a jeep loaded with ammunition and doled some of it out to us.

How did you take the news that the 101st was surrounded? Did you ever dispair?
No, we never worried about it. A lot of us reacted to the news with, "They got us surrounded, the poor bastards". We were used to being surrounded. We were dug in and had good positions, so we were ready for whatever happened.

After reaching the front, the company was sent to positions in Bois Jacques, where it quickly got involved in some fighting. Please describe what that was like?
We got off the trucks at Champs and then marched east through Bastogne and set up positions in these woods outside the town of Foy. When I settled in my foxhole, Which I shared with Paul Rogers, I realized I had only one grenade and very little ammunition for my rifle. Nevertheless, we were immediately placed on outpost duty, which was six hours per shift. We hadn't been out there long when the Germans hit us pretty hard. We repulsed the attack and had finished our shift when the Germans shelled our positions pretty bad. That is when Walter Gordon was wounded pretty badly.

Did this sort of routine continue?
Yes, the same thing happened over the next several days. One of the worst days was December 24. They hit us about 8:30 in the morning with a full company of SS troops. Then the artillery shelled us. To add to it, the luftwaffe bombed us all night long.

What other difficulties did you face?

The weather was also a factor. We had no cold-weather clothing. I covered my feet with burlap sacks to keep them from freezing. That worked for a while, but then the sacks froze, and it felt like I had two suitcases on my feet. Te cold was awful. I honostly don't know how in the hell we survived.

Can you describe what it was like when you heard that the 101st had been relieved?
We didn't really know what it meant. We soon found out, though. We were taken off the line for a few days, and then we were right back in it, attacking Foy.

How long did your new round of fighting last?
We kept fighting through January. We had a short time off the line, but we were back in combat by January 2, and we were still in our positions in Bois Jacques when we were shelled terribly on January 3. That is when we lost Bill Guarnere and Joe Toye (both wounded). On the 13th we continued our attack on Foy. The town was full of snipers. One of them had what was left of the 3rd Platoon pinned down pretty good. He shot and killed Frank Mellet right in front of me. Finally, Shifty Powers got the sniper with a shot right between the eyes. Even after we took the town, though, it was still dangerous. At one point we were in the town when all of a sudden an 88 round came crashing in. It landed in the snow and was a dud- thank goodness, as it landed between a couple of us who had no place to go. If it had been live, I wouldn't have made it. It scared the hell out of us.

After all you had been through was Foy the end for you?
No, after Foy we got the word that we were going to attack Noville. I remember thinking to myself, "My God, they won't be happy until they kill every last one of us". After what we had been through, I wondered how they could tell us to attack again. We went, though. There was no complaining. We knew it had to be done, and we were going to do it. Complaining wasn't going to change anything.

What were your final days in the Ardennes like, and can you describe how you felt when you finally got a respite?
I remember the last town we were in was Rachamps. It was the last place we took, and they shelled us the whole night before we left. Finally, they pulled us back out to some buildings, and we were given a chance to rest in what was left of a couple of them. Even though we were all crammed into these two buildings, being off the line felt damn good.

Do you have any final thought about Easy Company?
I think all of the attention we are receiving is a terrific honor. I just hope it is not blown out of proportion. I know some of the other companies and regiments in the division will be upset about all of this attention. I know that what we went through was the same as any other company in the division. We are not special. We didn;t win the war single-handedly; there were milions of folks in the service during World War II, and they all had a hand in the victory. I know that my life would have been different without the men of Company E. It was such a great experience to meet so many terrific guys. The greatest bunch of guys in the world. It is still quite a group.

Other Comments:
Awards: CIB, Jump Wings 3 Combat Jumps, Bronze Star, Purple Heart w/2 Oak leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, ADM,�EAME W/4�Bronze Stars, WW II Victory, Army Occupation Medal, French Croix de Gueere, Dutch Orange Laynard, Belgium Croix de Gueere.

Location of Service: Camp Toccoa, Georgia; England; France; Belgium; Holland; Germany; Austria�

MOS: 745
ASN: 18166080�
Enlisted: 22-Sep-42 at Little Rock, AK. County: Montgomery. Infantry�
4 years of high school�
Semiskilled structural- and ornamental-metal workers�
Single, without dependents

Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law�

Army of the United States - includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of the United States under Army Regulations 605-10
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D-Day Glider Landings/Mission Chicago
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Mission Chicago was a pre-dawn glider-borne combat assault in the American airborne landings in Normandy, made by elements of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division on the early morning of June 6, 1944. It was part of Operation Neptune, the assault portion of the Allied invasion of France, Operation Overlord. Originally slated to be the main assault for the 101st Airborne, the glider operation instead became the first reinforcement mission after the main parachute combat assault, mission Albany. Because the area of responsibility for the division was in close proximity to Utah Beach, the use of glider reinforcement was limited in scale, with most division support units transported by sea.

The 101st Airborne Division's objectives were to secure the four causeway exits behind Utah Beach, destroy a German coastal artillery battery at Saint-Martin-de-Varreville, capture buildings nearby at Mezières believed used as barracks and a command post for the artillery battery, capture the Douve River lock at la Barquette (opposite Carentan), capture two footbridges spanning the Douve River at la Porte opposite Brevands, destroy the highway bridges over the Douve at Sainte-Come-du-Mont, and secure the Douve River valley.

In the process units would also disrupt German communications, establish roadblocks to hamper the movement of German reinforcements, establish a defensive line between the beachhead and Valognes, clear the area of the drop zones to the unit boundary at Les Forges, and link up with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Mission description
Douglas C-47 of the 74th Troop Carrier Squadron, 434th TCG.
Mission Chicago was the 27th serial of the airborne assault, and was flown by the troop carrier C-47 Skytrains of the 434th Troop Carrier Group at RAF Aldermaston. 52 aircraft acted as tugs for an equal number of CG-4A Waco gliders carrying 155 troops, a bulldozer, sixteen 57-millimeter (6-pounder) antitank guns, and 25 small vehicles. 2.5 tons of ammunition and 11 tons of equipment were also transported, including an SCR-499 radio set for the division headquarters command post.

Chicago was primarily an artillery reinforcement mission. Aboard 44 gliders were Batteries A and B of the 81st Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion. The other 8 gliders carried small elements of the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion, the 101st Signal Company, the antitank platoon of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, and a surgical team of the 326th Airborne Medical Company. Also accompanying the glider serial in a last-minute change was the assistant division commander, Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt, who had been designated to command the seaborne echelon.

The mission had originally been planned for glider release at civil twilight on the evening before the amphibious landings, but to protect the gliders from ground fire the time was changed on May 27 to 0400 on D-Day, 2 hours before dawn. The designated destination in France was Landing Zone (LZ) E, an area co-located with and slightly overlapping one of the paratroop drop zones, DZ C. The area was chosen as central to the operations of the division and because a BUPS beacon ("Beacon, Ultra Portable S-band") was to be in place there on which the serial commander could guide using the SCR-717 search radars installed in the aircraft of flight leaders.

The landing zone was a triangle-shaped area a mile in width at its mile-long base along the road connecting les Forges (a hamlet south of Sainte-Mère-Église) and Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. The zone was 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in depth and its eastern edge ran through Hiesville, the division command post two miles (3 km) west of Ste. Marie-du-Mont. In addition to its central locality, the fields within the zone were on average twice the length of most others in the vicinity. Many of the fields, however, were bordered by trees 40 feet (12 m) in height and not hedgerows, a fact that did not show up well on aerial reconnaissance photographs.

Glider assault
The first of 52 aircraft took off at 0119. Bright moonlight enabled the tugs to assemble in thirteen flights of four aircraft-glider combinations in an "echelon of four to the right" formation. Shortly after assembly the glider carrying the command post radio broke loose from its tug and landed. The radio was retrieved and transported that evening in mission Keokuck, but the accident meant that the 101st would be out of radio contact with other invasion forces until after link-up with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division coming off Utah Beach.

The weather along its route had moderated from the dense cloud bank and ground fog that had severely disrupted the parachute drops two hours earlier. Because they were in trail and not in close formation vees, the tugs and gliders were able to penetrate the clouds without losing formation. The columns drew ground fire, however, and one C-47 and its glider went down near Pont l'Abbé on the Douve River, west of the landing zone. Seven transports and several gliders also incurred damage.

The commander of the 434th TCG was guided to LZ E by a "Eureka" transponding radar beacon set up there by the pathfinders (the BUPS AN/UPN-1 beacons had been damaged in landing and were inoperable). Although it had been placed in the wrong section of the LZ, the 'Tee' shape formed by green Holophane marker lights was observed by pilots of the arriving C-47s. At 0354, six minutes early, 49 of the 50 remaining pilots released their gliders at the designated point from an altitude of 450 feet (140 m) MSL. The 50th, wandering out of formation, released its glider south of Carentan.

During the specified 270° left turns after release, most of the Waco glider pilots lost sight of the marker lights. The moon was setting by release time and obscured by scattered clouds so that without reference to the markers the glider pilots no longer recognized the landing zone. Just six landed on the LZ itself and only 15 others in fields within a half mile. A group of ten landed in a field near les Forges. Of the remaining 18, all but one landed in fields to the east within two miles (3 km).

Almost all crash-landed in the smaller fields outside the LZ after overshooting to clear unexpected trees. German ground fire was ineffective in the dark, and even though most gliders struck a tree or ditch, most loads were successfully landed without harm. In one glider Gen. Pratt was killed along with the co-pilot (the aftermath of this incident is fictionalized in the film Saving Private Ryan). Total casualties were 5 dead, 17 injured, and 7 missing.

At dawn the division command post sent out a large patrol to assist the reinforcements in removing their equipment from the crushed gliders (very few were crushed so badly that the equipment could not be removed immediately) and to guide them to Hiesville. Collecting and assembling the equipment was a lengthy process, but at noon the patrol returned with 3 jeeps, 6 AT guns, 115 glider troops, and 35 German prisoners. A USAF history of the airborne landings concluded that Mission Chicago had "succeeded beyond expectation".
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