Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
Date of birth: May 1, 1924
Dates of service: 1943-1945
Hometown: Golthwaite, Texas
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Branch: Marine Corps
Rank: Staff sergeant
Unit and specialty: 3rd wing, aviation supply sergeant
In his words: The ship taking Wells and his fellow Marines to broke down, bringing about a fortunate change of assignments for Martin. “I was at the right place at the right time … it could have been rough.”
Diverted to Hawaii, he served as the aviation supply sergeant, responsible for issuing anything and everything for the planes.
While the assignment in Hawaii was a pleasant turn of events, the boat trip getting there was an adventure. There were 1,900 men on the liberty ship and Martin said it seemed like 1,800 of them were sea sick.
“It was the greatest thing ever happened to me. I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I didn’t have a career or nothing. In the Marine Corps I went to school and studied … It was the greatest thing, it helped me grow up and mature. I don’t know what I’d have been if I hadn’t gone in the Marine Corps. I even liked the food; I told everybody I didn’t know what they were griping about.”
James “Pete” Wells
Date of birth: April 28,1925
Dates of service: 1943-1946
Lives in: Portales
Theater and location of service: Europe, Italy
Rank: Private 1st Class
Unit and specialty: 45th division, A company 179; Infantry
Veterans organizations: Disabled American Veterans
In his words: The shot from a sniper’s gun hit him in the arm.
He remembers the field medic in Italy treating and telling him to walk back to the mobile hospital.
En route, he was struck again, this time both legs were riddled with machine gun fire. He remembers at that point he decided to “give up walking and lay there.”
He remembers being told “it’s not the shot you hear that gets you, it’s the one you don’t hear.”
Wells said it was true, he never heard the bullets. While in the hospital, Wells said he was told he might not walk again, but “I slipped out at night and walked when I wasn’t supposed to.”
After 22 months and 11 surgeries, Wells returned home.
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org