By Rodney Marner
When people think of going into the Army, they think of the fighting, the killing, and all the battles. Most people do not take into equation the people who have no choice but to serve. They have to.
James Marion was drafted into the Army in 1942. He became a fourth rank technician. As a technician he worked mostly with a crane, moving heavy boxes.
Before that, he was a farmer and a rancher, “I loved working on the farm, but my country needed me,” said Marion.
He worked all over the South Pacific in places like Australia and the Philippines as well as California. He never ended up going back overseas to visit those places. “It was too expensive to travel overseas,” he said. But he did go back to see places in California.
When he was in the armed forces, it changed him some but not a lot. It made him patriotic and made him value life more after seeing a lot of his friends die in the Army. He was a very happy-go-lucky guy and tried to make the best of things.
He said that even when times were bad he would make everything fun. “We were on a ship that was headed to Australia and the freezer that held our food went out. Well, they still fed us food from the freezer. We got sick and I still made everyone laugh during that time,” said Marion.
Marion was married for 46 years and his wife passed away in 1996. After she died, he got remarried. He rescued his second wife from a Blackfoot Indian reservation. They had been together for a while, then she got sick and moved into assisted living. Since he is at the Veterans Home, they try to keep in touch. “It was great to hear that she is doing better again,” said Marion.
He has been married for 13 years to his second wife. Marion has three daughters, three grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. “Do you see those pictures? Those are my grandchildren. I love them so much,” said Marion.
“I would always keep in touch with my friends from the Army. Most of them are dead now. But there is still one guy, we try and keep in touch,” said Marion. He enjoyed the people he served with. He has plenty of pictures of all of his friends from the Army plus plenty of stories about his friends from when he served.
When he was discharged he was excited to get back to the ranch and farm. Marion loved it on the ranch he had his best friend on the ranch. That was his horse, Pal, he was named that because he was a Palomino. He loved that horse, he spoke about him. He treasures photos of Pal. After his discharge he worked in the oil fields, mostly with the rigs. He was put in the Veterans Home on Oct. 11, 2011. “I do not like this place. I miss the farm and ranch. This place is too constricted. I wish I was on my ranch and farm,” said Marion.
He was a part of the firing squad, that fires guns at military funerals with the American Legion. He did that for 55 years. He stopped when his voice wasn’t strong enough to do yell. “I loved the firing squad. I would yell and those men would listen. It was a sight to see,” said Marion. “The worst part was burying a couple of the men I worked with.”
“Another important and fun job I had was being a service officer, I did that for 28 years. What I would do is make sure that all of the veterans got proper benefits. I enjoyed doing that,” said Marion.
One of Marion’s favorite memories from serving was stopping in Australia. “There were so many beautiful women that were 18 through 25 years old. Man those were the days” said Marion.
James Marion will turn 92 Aug. 20. He is pulling to reach 100.
“Veterans Day has a very special place in my heart as does Memorial Day. They both mean a lot to me” said Marion.
Rodney Marner is a freshman majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.