This photograph of James F. Doran shows him with his cap tilted back, and his buddy on the right. It was taken at Camp Gordon, Augusta, Georgia on February 28, 1942. James was 22 years old in this picture – a city boy from Harrison, NJ. What a great smile he had for the camera! On the 50th Anniversary of D-Day we had looked through the pictures in his album, and he identified this buddy as Mike Proto from Rhode Island. They were in the 4th, or IVY, Division of the Army, Company I, 12th Infantry, but back then it was called the 4th Motorized Division of the United States Army. I had posted back in May a little background on Camp Gordon.
One of the items James saved was a large picture of Company I, 13″ by 31″, and it has the names of all the men with a group photo, and also a few other pictures. It’s not in the best shape, with old cellophane tape patching it up, and it needs to be flattened to look at, since was stored in a cardboard tube. In the list of names, under Privates First Class, are Doran, James F., and also Proto, Roco J. Maybe James remembered a nickname, or possibly he mixed up two names of friends.
James enlisted on 25 March 1941 at Fort Dix, NJ, where he had two months of basic training. Then he served 39 months as a Rifleman. After landing with his unit on D-Day at Utah Beach with the third wave, on the 8th of June 1944 he was severely wounded in Normandy. After his recovery, he then served another 12 months in France as a Military Policeman, receiving an Honorable Discharge back at Fort Dix on the 18 November 1945.
His parents, Bernard and Mary Doran, had three other sons in the service during World War II. They were: Corporal Bernard Jr., who served in the South Pacific, and Private First Class John, who landed on D-Day at Omaha Beach with the 29th Division, and also Peter, a Navy seaman. John was wounded in Normandy on June 9th 1944, and sent to the same hospital James was in, and they met for the last time there. John was patched up and sent out to fight again, and was killed during the Battle of Brest on August 30, 1944. Peter had been on the U.S.S. Steel Voyager in the North Atlantic with a convoy in 1943, and his ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat on the 23rd of September. He spent a week with his crew-mates on lifeboats, but they all made it safely home.
I often think of the huge sacrifices the Greatest Generation made for our freedom and liberty, and I also think how hard it must have been for their parents, spouses, children, family, and loved ones waiting and praying at home. In the photo album James kept, there is a clipping his family saved from one of the Newark, NJ newspapers. Below, it shows James with two other Newark men, and they were listed among the New Jersey soldiers wounded in action the previous day. I wonder about Mike, and the two other men shown in the newspaper article, while saying thanks for the courageous service of the heroic men and women that served our country during World War II. For anyone planning a trip to Washington, D.C., I highly recommend a stop at the World War II Memorial while visiting there.