Fallen WWII hero hon­ored at Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 238

Fam­ily of Capt. Joseph ‘Ron’ Jame­son present Pur­ple Heart

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

Nearly 40 de­scen­dants of fallen World War II hero Capt. Joseph “Ron” DeRon­ima Jame­son pre­sented his Pur­ple Heart to the Jame­son-Har­ri­son Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 238 in Hugh­esville on June 3, where it will re­main on dis­play to honor his mem­ory and ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

Founded in 1947 by 40 re­turn­ing World War II vet­er­ans, the post was named af­ter two lo­cal draftees who lost their lives dur­ing the war: Jame­son and Mas­ter Sgt. Phillip E. Har­ri­son

of Hugh­esville, a B-29 ar­ial gun­ner.

“I feel his spirit is very alive here to­day,” said Judy Res­sal­lat, Jame­son’s niece. “I know in my heart that here is where it be­longs.” Though she never met him, she re­mem­bered hear­ing sto­ries about him as she grew up.

The eighth of nine chil­dren, Jame­son was born on March 21, 1918, and was raised on his par­ent’s to­bacco farm in Bryan­town. He at­tended Notre Dame Academy and as a stu­dent he won sev­eral or­a­tor­i­cal con­tests.

“Ev­ery­body knew ev­ery­body in those days,” said Mac McDon­agh, who re­mem­bered grow­ing up a few years younger than Jame­son. “Ev­ery­body looked up to him … We all went to church to­gether, pic­nics and all the so­cial events.”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Notre Dame Academy in 1936, Jame­son worked as a sales clerk at Bowl­ing and Com­pany in Hugh­esville un­til the se­lec­tive ser­vice act be­came ef­fec­tive in 1940, and he was soon drafted into the U.S. Army.

“Ev­ery­body seemed to be go­ing,” re­called McDon­agh. “They just took ev­ery­body. Hardly a house that didn’t have a blue star, one, or two, or three.”

Jame­son was in­ducted into the army at Fort Meade in May, 1941, and was soon pro­moted to cor­po­ral, ac­cord­ing to the fam­ily and U.S. Army doc­u­ments. He then at­tended of­fi­cer can­di­date school at Fort Ben­ning, Ga., grad­u­at­ing as a sec­ond lieu­tenant. Jame­son was pro­moted again, just four months later, to first lieu­tenant, and later grad­u­ated an ad­vanced of­fi­cers course and was pro­moted to cap­tain in June 1944.

As cap­tain, Jame­son was the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of Com­pany A of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 393rd In­fantry Reg­i­ment, 99th In­fantry Di­vi­sion. Nick­named the “Bat­tle Ba­bies,” the 99th was des­ig­nated as a re­serve unit, while other di­vi­sions were tasked with the ini­tial in­va­sion.

While the 99th con­tin­ued to train in the U.S., the lib­er­a­tion of France was well un­der­way. On June 6, 1944, D-Day, more than 160,000 al­lied troops landed on the beaches of Nor­mandy and suf­fered heavy causal­i­ties as the sol­diers fought an up­hill bat­tle against the well-for­ti­fied po­si­tions held by the Nazis. Ma­chine guns and ar­tillery shred­ded men as they dis­em­barked from their trans­port crafts.

In Oc­to­ber 1944, a con­voy formed and Jame­son, his men and the 99th sailed to Eng­land.

In Novem­ber, the 99th sailed across the English Chan­nel and landed in Le Havre, France, be­fore mo­tor-march­ing to Aubel, Bel­gium. There, the GIs would march to re­in­force the al­lied troops, who by this time had driven the Nazis much fur­ther in­land, back into Ger­many, over the for­mi­da­ble Siegfried Line, a highly for­ti­fied de­fen­sive line of pill­boxes and forts that stretched about 390 miles along the bor­der.

Jame­son wrote let­ters to his fam­ily, as­sur­ing them he was OK. His only re­quest was for can­dles, to help read maps at night, and his mother’s fruit­cake, Res­sal­lat said.

In a let­ter dated Nov. 8, 1944, Jame­son wrote home. “Dear Mom, Pop, and All, There is now a change in my lo­ca­tion; how­ever, the ad­dress is the same. I am now some­where in Bel­gium. That’s all that I can say con­cern­ing my where­abouts and as to what I am do­ing,” he wrote. “Just be­cause I am in Bel­gium and if you do not hear from me as of­ten as you did do not worry about me be­cause I will be al­right and will see you in 1945.”

“There are so many things I would like to tell you about, such as what I have seen and heard and such, but that must wait un­til a later date. Right now I am O.K., get­ting plenty of food.”

“Hope ev­ery­one is well, Love, Ron.”

Soon, he and his men would be un­der fire, and re­turn­ing it.

In De­cem­ber, Jame­son and the rest of 99th ex­pe­ri­enced their first ma­jor com­bat ac­tion as the Ger­mans launched an all-out counter of­fen­sive now known as the “Bat­tle of the Bulge.”

For his con­spic­u­ous gal­lantry in the bat­tle, Jame­son would be awarded the Sil­ver Star by U.S. Army Ma­jor Gen. Walter E. Lauer.

“Early in the ini­tial at­tack of Von Rund­st­edt, the 1st Bat­tal­ion of the 393rd In­fantry was put to test,” the ci­ta­tion reads. “Al­though sur­rounded on two sides by the en­emy, Capt. Jame­son led his com­pany through fierce en­emy ar­tillery fire to the line of de­par­ture with­out loss of a sin­gle man.”

“Al­though he had only two ri­fle pla­toons and one light ma­chine gun squad, he at­tacked the horde of on com­ing Nazis. Al­ways at the front lead­ing his men, Capt. Jame­son per­son­ally ac­counted for many dead Ger­mans.”

“By the dar­ing of his at­tack, 500 yards of valu­able ter­ri­tory was re­cap­tured and was held for 24 hours against stiff­en­ing odds. Af­ter the cloud of bat­tle of the first en­gage­ment had cleared away, 20 en­emy dead and 45 wounded were counted in front of Capt. Jame­son’s po­si­tion.”

News­pa­pers back home raved about his ac­com­plish­ment in bat­tle.

A few weeks af­ter the ac­tion, Jame­son wrote home again in a let­ter dated Jan. 8, 1945. “Dear Mom, Pop, and All, Haven’t for­got­ten to write you but have just not had the chance to do so un­til now. Any time you do not hear from me you know that no news is good news so don’t worry,” he wrote. “As for now I am O.K. as usual and will con­tinue to be so.”

“At present we are hav­ing some real win­ter. Not the Mary­land kind ei­ther, as there is snow on the ground all the time, at least there has been for the last six weeks or so and has been snow­ing al­most all of two days now. It is about two feet deep at present. We do not mind the cold and snow how­ever so much as we get used to it and when it is cold we are not with a lot of mud as we would be oth­er­wise.”

“Hope you are all well and do not have colds. As for my­self, the last cold I had was some­time in the sum­mer. Liv­ing out in the weather even in the snow is re­ally more healthy than be­ing in­side all the time, es­pe­cially as far as colds are con­cerned.”

“… Don’t for­get to write Mary Ellen [Gar­ner] as of­ten as you think you should be­cause she will be another of your daugh­ter in laws you know even though you do not know her ac­tu­ally, but be­fore many months you will, so in the mean­time write her and let her know you hear from me and so forth.”

“Aunt Marie sent me a box of cook­ies a few days ago, they were de­li­cious and they sure dis­ap­peared in a hurry. You can send me at any time a box of candy, home­made or oth­er­wise, and if you can at any­time pur­chase the in­gre­di­ents for a fruit cake, it will re­ally taste good.”

“… Will write again as soon as pos­si­ble … Love, Ron.”

Of the let­ters pre­served in a tome by the Jame­son fam­ily, that was the last.

On March 23, 1945, with the war wind­ing down, Jame­son was driv­ing through a re­cently cap­tured area near Linz, Ger­many, when a Nazi sniper opened fire, killing him.

Just six weeks later, the Ger­mans sur­ren­dered to the Al­lies on May 7.

The Jame­son fam­ily was dev­as­tated by the loss, in­clud­ing his older brother Wil­liam Mar­cel­lus Jame­son who fought in the Pa­cific theater.

“My dad was ex­tremely sad,” Res­sal­lat said. “He didn’t like to talk much about the war, but he was very sad that his brother had been killed, had not come home. He thought very much of him.”

“It was a large fam­ily,” she con­tin­ued, “It brought a lot of grief and a lot of loss be­cause they were such lov­ing peo­ple.”

Those who knew Jame­son sent nu­mer­ous let­ters of con­do­lences from the war front.

“… All of the of­fi­cers and en­listed men who knew him had the deep­est re­spect for his calm­ness and courage un­der all cir­cum­stances,” wrote the Rev. Raphael Hochhaus who served as a chap­lain. “No one ever heard any­thing de­bas­ing fall from his lips. He was strict and ab­so­lutely fair as a com­man­der. His men loved him and still miss him.”

“… A visit to A Com­pany al­ways brought hap­pi­ness be­cause so many of the Catholics were on hand and he never missed. I think of him prac­ti­cally every day, re­mem­ber him at Mass, find it dif­fi­cult to pray for him, think I ought to pray to him.”

“You ought not feel that you lost any­thing that was yours to keep — and I know you do not think that. You are to be con­grat­u­lated for the saint you have given back to God, young and un­sul­lied. Pray for me as of­ten as you think of him — af­ter all, we acted a bit like brothers.”

Jame­son was ini­tially buried at the U.S. Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery Henri-Chapelle, Bel­gium, but the hero would later re­turn home to his fi­nal rest­ing place out­side of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bryan­town.

“Thus the brave sol­dier, in phys­i­cal com­bat, proves his met­tle; en­cour­ages those who look to him for lead­er­ship; helps has­ten the vic­tory and its long awaited peace,” said Rev. Elmer Fisher at the con­clu­sion of re­quiem Mass. “… God rest him through all eter­nity.”

Though Ron Jame­son is gone, his legacy lives on through the val­or­ous sto­ries of his deeds, of­ten re­counted at fam­ily gath­er­ings, passed down to younger gen­er­a­tions and im­mor­tal­ized by Post 238.

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