Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
James Woodrow Lee
Date of birth: Sept. 30, 1916
Dates of service: January 1943 to June 1946
Lives in: Portales
Theater and location of service: Germany
Rank: Private 1st Class
Unit and specialty: 29th Infantry Division, communication
In his words: Lee was shot in the leg while trying to repair telephone lines in Germany under the cover of dark.
He was working with another soldier at the time, who asked Lee if he could make it back to the unit.
“I told him to run. … but (I) couldn’t.”
Crawling back to the unit with broken bones in his foot, his friend managed to get help. A lieutenant and another soldier returned for Lee and together they got into the basement of a house. The bones in his leg shattered from the gun shot, Lee struggling to get down the stairs.
Once it was safe, Lee was put into a jeep and taken to the hospital. After receiving treatment in Europe he was sent to California where a bone graft was done to repair his leg.
Healed, Lee attended college using his GI bill and returned to Portales, working as an accountant until retirement.
Date of birth: July 30, 1926
Dates of service: 1943 to 1969
Hometown: Becker, Miss.
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Branch: Navy, Air Force and Army.
Unit and specialty: LSM 480, cook
Lives in: Portales
Veterans organizations: VFW
In his words: He was the last of five brothers to serve.
“From the time my first brother went in, that was the thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to go — I’m not sorry that I went.”
Serving as a cook on a LSM (Landing Ship Medium), Kendrick said “baked beans and cinnamon rolls became a Saturday morning breakfast tradition for the Navy men.
“It was pretty good. You got to looking forward to it.”
Once the invasion of Okinowa was under way, the ship became a transporter, taking the wounded to the larger hospital ships anchored farther out. Pulling up to the beach, cargo and supplies would be unloaded and then wounded soldiers would be brought onboard.
“It was pretty bad. You just do the best you can. It was something that if I’d had a choice, I wouldn’t have wanted to see it.”
Following his service in World War II, Kendrick re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps, staying in the military until retirement.
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: