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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Youngest Volunteer WWII

James Harold Bailey became one of the youngest, if not the youngest, Army volunteer inducted by the local board as reported by the Lawrence County News December 4, 1941. At that time, he was 5’6” tall with blue eyes and red hair. The examiner noted that he had a 4” scar on the back of his head. 


Rolla E Bailey, James’ father, was a veteran of WWI. Pvt Rolla Bailey was inducted in the US Army at Lawrenceville May 26, 1918. He was 25 years of age with blue eyes although the registrar stated they were brown, light hair and stood 5’4 ¾ inches. He served with Co K, 61 Inf, 5th Division and fought at Argonne from May to November.  He received an honorable discharge July 26, 1919, and a purple heart. 


Because James was only 19 years old, it was necessary to get the consent of his parents.  This was obtained and he was sent to the induction station in Chicago.  He passed the final tests and with a group of other trainees was sent to Milwaukee Wisconsin for a Thanksgiving dinner.


Returning to Chicago, he was sent to the recruit reception center at Camp Grant, the same camp from which his father was discharged from military service in 1919.


When his father gave consent for his son’s enlistment, Mr. Bailey said the boy was determined to enter the army and had he failed to pass the physical examination it would have been a great disappointment.  He further stated that the boy had never been away from home for more than a day or two at a time, but he was thoroughly enjoying his experiences and was well pleased with army life.


Three days after the newspaper published this article, Pearl Harbor was attacked. In late August 1942 his parents received word that James, stationed at Fort Devans, Massachusetts, was being transferred to a government hospital in Chicago.  About three months previously Pvt Bailey had suffered a sinus infection and was sent to the camp hospital for treatment but never fully recovered. No other information has been learned about his military career but that he did return to Lawrence County and his death did not occur until 1955.

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