James J. Alexander
James J. Alexander was 17 years old when Japanese forces launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. Just under a year later, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on his 18th birthday. He soon found himself testing war planes in the bitter cold of Alaska. This hero's story was recently shared with us by his daughters, Elizabeth Putnam and Janet Edwards.
Born December 4, 1924 in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, James Alexander enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in December of 1942, on his 18th birthday. After induction at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, he was sent to Embry Riddle School of Aviation in Miami, Florida. Upon completion of his course of study there, he was stationed for a brief time at Bolling Field in Washington, DC. However, for most of the war he was stationed at Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska.
At Ladd Field, Alexander was part of the Cold Weather Testing Detachment which was responsible for making sure aircraft would start and fly at extreme temperatures. Temperatures at Ladd Field can drop lower than -60° Fahrenheit in the winter, making it an ideal place for such testing. Alexander's unit tested how to handle wing icing and navigation, the effectiveness of cold-weather clothing and armament, and other aspects of operating aircraft in these arctic-like conditions. James worked as a mechanic on B-24 Liberator Bombers and C-64 Norseman planes and flew as a flight engineer on these aircraft.
Following the war, James Alexander was discharged from the service on March 3, 1946. Today, at age 93, he resides with his wife, Margie, in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The two have been married for 71 years.
James Alexander with his wife of 71 years, Margie
- WWII Victory Medal
- American Theater Service Medal
- Asiatic-Paciﬁc Service Medal
- Good Conduct Medal
- Sharp Shooter Medal