A few days later Terrie, Mr. Washington's daughter, signed our guestbook and contacted me and said she was very excited about having her dad's history and photos on our site. And so his story unfolds...
James B. Washington, 36th Combat Engineers, Land Mine Finder - by Terrie Washington
The Second World War was won at great cost, not only abroad, but also on the American homefront. While the guns rattled in Europe and Asia, the war was changing American lives, institutions, and one family in particular; the Washington family. To American service people in Europe and in Asia, the Second World War was a filthy job, to say the least, and millions of G.I.'s were simply eager to get in and get it over with.
James B. Washington was one of those G.I.'s. Jim was son of E. "Jim Buck" Washington and Annie Boyce Buchanan, grandson of Joseph Albert Washington and great grandson of Mississippi 31st Infantry "Dixie Rebel" John C. Washington. Jim was born the 27th day of October, 1922, in Memphis, Tennessee, where his father "Jim Buck" drove a street car. His mother Annie Boyce Buchanan, daughter of Curtis Ivy Buchanan and Rutha Ellen Chenault (second cousin of Major General Claire Lee Chenault), was first runner-up at the MIss Memphis beauty pageant. When Jim was a young boy, the family moved to Hollywood, Florida, where they lived for a short time and then moved to Miami, where Jimmy grew up with sister Juanita Irene Washington.
Jim attended Miami Senior High School and played football. Jim's football coach, after seeing the running speed of this young, tall teenager, made Jim a running back. Jim led his team to victory many times, because once his legs got moving; Jim was gone. (Dad said he did the 100 in 10 seconds flat). After High school, Jim went to school at Lincoln Electric, where he graduated at the top of his class. When he returned to Miami, he joined the Ironworkers local #272 of South Florida.
Jim enlisted in the US Army at the age of 21, and departed Jacksonville, Florida, for basic training at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. After his basic training, he departed the United States out of Newport News, Virginia. While Jim was waiting to get his orders, everyday, 50 or more soldiers were called out. One day, only one name was called; "James B. Washington, 36th Combat Engineers".
Jim was delighted for his assignment. All the other soldiers told him how lucky he was to get such a good position. Jim's soldier friends said it was because he had scored a 100% on his test that he got into the Engineers. Jim's happiness changed once he got to Europe.
With adrenaline pumping throughout his body, Jim was the first to jump out of the boat with full dress before it shored in and almost drowned because the water was over his head with the gear weighed him down.
Jim's job was to locate and disable landmines. His Infantry position was front line, right flank. When they hit Anzio Beach Head, Jim was shot by a machine gun in one of his "jewels". He was hit another time by a bomb in the chest and stomach while his best friend died by his side. I believe crossing the Rhine. He was taken to the General Hospital, but was passed over twice by medical personnel. Jim was very bad, and there were others that had a "better chance". A third medical personnel, a Captain, came to Jim and looked him over and said, "Washington, I"ll try and save you". I don't know who this man was since dad's medical records were burnt in St. Louis, but mister, I thank you so much.
Jim recovered well, mostly because his mother Annie Boyce, went overseas, to be by his side in Italy. After recovery, James B. was back to duty. The Engineers took off for Germany...
While marching into Germany, Jim's feet froze. He sat it out in a foxhole for a long while with his feet suffering. Though on his DD214 it lists "trench foot", I have record of severe winter weather conditions. Dad suffered from pain in his feet all of his life. Medics took Jim to the General Hospital again, where he was placed in the "blind tent". Dad said, "Linda Parnell was entertaining the troops; I could hear her. There were limbs everywhere in the tent I was in; it just made me sick". I guess the "blind tent" was supposed to be for blind soldiers (and storage of limbs).
James B. Washington received two purple hearts for his injuries and an honorable discharge, then went home to Miami. He married, and returned to the Ironworkers of South Florida where he worked for 40 more years running work, and building most of the high-rises you see today in Miami Beach, as well as the Orange Bowl. He served on the Executive Board for the union and was vice president and then president, of the Everglades Conservation and Sportsman's Club.