Corporal James Kronaizl was born Nov. 23, 1925 in Utica.
He enlisted in the Marines Feb. 12, 1944 and served until December of 1945. Like many veterans in this area, he had his physical in Omaha, NE. Then he went by train to San Diego, CA, where he spent 16 weeks in training for the Marines. He was a motor man and rifle man.
Jim's first mission was on the Solomon Islands where a previous division of Marines had just taken out the Japanese camps. His work was to wipe out those who were left behind. He was in the K Company ,Third Platoon. Captain Stanley said, "shoot first, shoot to kill, and be on alert someday it will safe your life." The Japanese's extreme cruelty to the natives is what kept the soldiers determined to get rid of the Japanese. It was kill or be killed. The combat, killing human men, was the most difficult part of the war. However, the enemy wasn't human anymore.
Jim said he enjoyed interacting with the natives, who really liked their T-shirts, so they would give them to the people when they could. They also liked our chocolate bars and cigarettes
One of the things that was really difficult was the heat and humidity. Their clothing just rotted off of them, and there was mold everywhere.
"Our food was C-rations which meant we ate out of a can,. It was alright, but I didn't expect it would be different. It was the same with the mail. There were so many of us that the mail didn't move very fast," he said.
Jim's next stop was to Okinawa. There were 20,000 Marines in each division. This time instead of being all Marines, there were also 100,000 Army soldiers. Jim dug his fox hole which he did not mind doing because it was what saved many lives. You dug it a little deeper than your own height
Their first tragedy was when General Buckner had been killed by a Japanese sniper. The next tragedy for the soldiers was the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945.
Right after they had finished a charge, some of the men started a game of cards. While they were playing, the Marine who was standing watch told them to move back because mortars were coming down the valley. Just then a mortar hit them. A mortar shell landed right between the card player and the Marine on guard. A chunk of the shell ricocheted into Jim's head leaving him bloodied and unconscious on the ground. Some Marines carried him to a first aid tent where he had a hunk of his skull removed and replaced with a slab of metal. After that he was in a field hospital for about three months.
He was flown to Guam's Army hospital and was there for about three weeks. Then he went by ship to Oakland and then to the Army Hospital in Memphis. "I always thought we would win the war. The good Lord was always with me," said Jim.
"My brother Adolph," said Jim, "was in the CB's, running a bulldozer, and somehow heard I was in the hospital in Okinawa so, he was able to see me once before being moved to Guam's Army Hospital."
Corporal James E. Kronaizl was released from the Army Hospital on Dec. 25, 1945, with a Purple Heart and many more medals.
He traveled home by regular train to Omaha, NE and from there to Vermillion by bus. He was very happy to see his family who came to pick him up at the bus station. He thinks they were happy to see him, also.
"I made many lifetime friends which I have seen at many of the reunions I attended. We still keep in touch with some of them," he said.
He married his wife, Barbara, in 1953. Together they raised three children, Patty, Denis, and Julie.
His company was portrayed in the HBO's miniseries, The Pacific.