Fallen WWII hero honored at American Legion Post 238
Family of Capt. Joseph ‘Ron’ Jameson present Purple Heart
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.