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James Robert Maloney

 

 

James Robert Maloney, class of 1941, enlisted in the US Navy after completing a BA and MA at the New York State College for Teachers. He, and was killed on May 21, 1944, when a explosion started a fire on a groups of ships filled with explosives and ammunition in preparation for the invasion of Saipan.

Maloney's cousin writes:

Born October 11, 1920 to Veronica Camfield Maloney and Maurice L. Maloney, 2nd & youngest son and brother to John H. Maloney, all of Mechanicville, NY.

Graduated from Mechanicville High School, Class of 1937 as Class valedictorian. Won the Spanish, English and History prizes.

Entered New York State College for Teachers at Albany, September, 1937 as a freshman in the class of 1941.

Sports Editor of the State College News, recipient of the Gold key Award as Director of the Men's Athletic Association press bureau.

Member of Sigma Lambda Sigma social fraternity and kappa Phi Kappa, national honorary education fraternity.

Graduated June of 1941 Cum Laude with a Bachelor's of Arts degree with a teaching certificate in Spanish, English and Social Studies (History).

Unable to find a teaching position, he returned to NYSCT-Albany to pursue his Master's degree in English. Graduated in June of 1942.

Since the United States was at War as of December 7, 1941, James enlisted in the United States Navy Upon his graduation in June of 1942.

He was a member of the 1st Midshipmen's Class for New Officers at Notre Dame, where he was No. 1 in his Communications Class. graduated in January of 1943 and was commissioned as Ensign. Within a year, he was promoted to Lt. J.G. while serving aboard his LST39.

From Notre Dame he was subsequently stationed in Washington D.C. for further training. it was on to Little Creek Amphibious School for training on LCT's and LST's.

It was while he was at Little Creek NAS, that he met Douglas Fairbanks, jr., the actor, who was training British troops in Naval Amphibious warfare.

After Little Creek, he was assigned to LST39 as its Communications Officer. His travels took him down the Mississippi, to New Orleans, then through the Panama canal and to points in the Pacific.

LST (Landing Ship, Tank) is a naval vessel that is used to transport fuel and heavy equipment to support ground troops. They are nicknamed Large, Slow Targets for their speed is slow: 11 knots. Jim always reported that they received excellent air cover from NAVY & AIR FORCE when he was on a mission to transport fuel, equipment to a military operation.

It was while he was readying his ship for the Invasion of Saipan, at the West Loch Munitions Facility, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that the terrible explosion occurred that cost Jim his life [on May 21, 1944].

At West Lock, 21 LST's were lined up, tied end to end to each other. Jimmie's LST was the last. The explosion occurred on another LST and it quickly spread like wildfire, as most of the LST's were loaded with high explosives, being readied for the Invasion of Saipan. Jimmie was on deck and helped to put out the spreading fire, but it was total chaos. He & others tried in vain to loosen the ship form its moorings. Abandon ship order came down--and as communications officer, it was his duty to destroy all the ship's communications. He went below to do that and told a shipmate after doing that he was going to 'get the hell out of here.' That was the last time he was seen. The harbor was an inferno of exploding shells & fuel and ships trying to get underway--from the conflagration.

The family was not notified of his death until 1 month later. The family received personal commendation for Jimmie's valor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a personal letter of sympathy from Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal. He was awarded, posthumously the World War II Victory Medal in 1949.

Letters came to the family from many of his fellow officers telling of Jimmie's efforts on that fateful day. However, it didn't help fill the void in the family that his death caused.

from Ernest Lefner
Jim's Cousin

website with article about disaster: http://www.seatletimes.com/extra/browse/heml97/altperl_052197.html
http://members.aol.com/dolart/westloch.htm

 

   

Updated August 4, 2001