James William Jump

1922 - 1977


Their Story

James William Jump was born in Aledo, Illinois, to Alfred Dewight Jump and Myrtle B. (Gaston) Jump on October 23, 1922.[1]  Alfred was a laborer at a brickyard. James had six siblings, two of which were twins, Glenn and Albert.[2] His brother, George, died at the age of nine after contracting lockjaw from an infected boil on his heel in 1934.[3] Sister Sharon said he got a cinder in his shoe and didn’t take it out.[4] The family lived in Gilchrist, Illinois, at the time of his death. James’ dad served in the Army during WWI as a private from June 1918 until July 1919 in Mechanical Company E, 56th Infantry Regiment, 13th Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.[5] 

At the time of the 1940 U.S. Census, James was still living at home and seeking work at age 17.[6] Less than two years later, he registered for the draft on February 24, 1942. He was working for Roy Carver in Muscatine, Iowa. He was 19, 5’4” and 142 lbs.[7] He enlisted March 31, 1942,[8] and left for the Camp Grant induction center near Rockford, Illinois, with six other young men from Mercer County.[9]

Not much is known about his service from official documents, but James was commended, along with many others, by Major General Curtis E. LeMay, commanding the 21st Bomber Command of the 20th Air Force (Army) in 1945 for his part in the historic Superfortress low-level incendiary attacks on Japan.[10]  In May, a delayed report was released by the 21st Bomber Group Command in Guam that appeared in newspapers around the country commending all the specialists with the ground echelons who supported almost daily Superfortress assaults against the Japanese mainland.  “Your determination, skill and courage have delivered a stunning blow to the empire of the rising sun,” LeMay said, “For eight days of the sustained attacks, these men worked night and day, almost without rest, to keep the bombers in flying condition.”

James William Jump tag
James William Jump tag

From March 1945 to the end of hostilities on August 14, the strength of B-29s in the Mariana Islands increased from under 400 to 1,000. Command personnel on Guam reached 37,500, on Tinian 26,500, on Saipan 12,700, and on newly captured Iwo Jima 13,000. [11]They achieved much success during this period. A key reason was the change in tactics made by General LeMay and applied in the incendiary attacks upon Japanese cities. From high-altitude, daylight, precision bombing in formation, the switch was made to low-level, area bombing during hours of darkness. Sixty-one percent, or 96,480 tons, of all bombs dropped by the B-29s in Japan were incendiaries. The scope and complexity of these attacks were said to be the most impressive in the history of aerial warfare. Seventy-nine major missions hit sixty-four cities, involving 13,365 aircraft sorties that caused nearly one hundred percent building damage in a total area of approximately 175 square miles.

It was said by his family that James was also part of the unit that loaded the atomic bomb onto the Enola Gay prior to the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6 of 1945.[12]

James was discharged December 31, 1945, from the same place where he started – Camp Grant – which was also a separation center for returning GIs.[13]  He reenlisted in 1946 for three more years in the Army Air Corps and was sworn in as a corporal due to his previous service.[14] He came home on leave from the service when his father died in April 1947, but he missed the funeral by one day.

Sister Sharon said that James served in Germany at one time and sent cuckoo clocks to the married folks in the family, as well as to his mother, and a teddy bear and doll to her. She was 18 years younger than him. She also said he was stationed in Nome, Alaska, for a time. She saw a photo of him on a ladder working on an airplane. He also fell off a ladder there once and hurt his back. Nome had an airfield there, called Marks Air Field, in operation between 1940 and 1950.[15]  James finished his three years in 1949.

In 1953, James was a machinist with the International Harvester Company. [16] In 1959, he was working at George Evans Corporation.[17]

James had an interesting love life. He and Cora Williams, 29 of Spokane, Washington, got a marriage license in March 1947 in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.[18] It is unclear if they were ever married. James and Mary E. Smith of Moline got married on New Year’s Eve 1961 in Milan, Illinois. He had been living in Spokane. James left their home, and nobody knew where he had gone. He ended up in Lusk, Wyoming, where he became injured at some point and was hospitalized. It was there he met Myrtle Perry, a nurse’s aide at Spencer Hospital. He had been working at Frontier Lumber Company. Myrtle and James were married in August 1963. They honeymooned in the Black Hills and then lived in South Copper. But James was already married – to Mary – so the marriage to Myrtle was annulled in December 1964. And he was divorced from Mary in April 1965.

He remarried Myrtle in 1973 in Lusk, Wyoming. Her last name was Morgan at that time. James was living in Concord, California. Myrtle had four children.[19] In 1977, James became ill and returned to western Illinois and lived with his sister Sharon and her husband in Andalusia. He was diagnosed with throat cancer for which he had surgery at the Veterans Hospital in Iowa City. However, the tumor had grown under his skull and could not be removed. He died at the hospital on October 26, 1977.


[1] NARA – AAD – Display Full Records – Application (SS-5) Files, 1936 – 2007 (Last Names H through J) (archives.gov)

[2] 27 Oct 1977, 26 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com

[3] 29 Mar 1934, 15 – The Rock Island Argus at Newspapers.com  Gilchrist Boy Stricken with Lockjaw Dies

[4] Personal Interview of Sharon Jump Brown, sister of James Jump, on Aug. 15, 2022 via phone

[5] Alfred Dewight Jump – Facts (ancestry.com)

[6] 1940 United States Federal Census – Ancestry.com

[7] Page 1 WWII Draft Registration Cards – Fold3

[8] Jump, James William in U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019 – Fold3

[9] Mercer Group Leaves for Army The R.I. Argus 31 Mar 1942 p14 – Newspapers.com

[10] 08 May 1945, 5 – The Dispatch at Newspapers.com

[11]How the Superfortress Paced the Attack Against Japan – 6th Bomb Group

[12] Personal Interview with Greg Jump, nephew

[13] With Those in Armed Forces The R.I. Argus 9Jan1946 p3 – Newspapers.com

[14] Army Recruiting Office Enlists 3 – The R.I. Argus 5 Nov 1946 p6 – Newspapers.com

[15] Nome’s Military History | ALASKA.ORG

[16] Ancestry.com – U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995

[17] U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 – Ancestry.com

[18] 18 Mar 1947, 15 – Spokane Chronicle at Newspapers.com

[19] 27 Oct 1977, 26 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com