Veteran profiles: James Sutton

CNJ staff

James Sutton
Date of birth: Sept. 23, 1919
Dates of service: 1941 to 1947
Hometown: Curry County
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Branch: Navy
Rank: Aviation mechanic 2nd class
Unit and specialty: USS Saratoga, aviation mechanic and radar
Lives in: Curry County
Veterans organizations: Veterans of Foreign Wars

Sutton enlisted in the Navy when he was 22. “I knew that I would have to go one way or another, so I picked the service I wanted to be in,” he said.

Entering before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was sent to the South Pacific. “I enlisted for six years and I stayed six years,” he said.
Monitoring radar and watching for incoming planes, Sutton recalled spotting approximately 125 Japanese planes that were about 125 miles from his aircraft carrier.

“My main responsibility was to pick up all the Japanese planes I could and send planes out to get them shot down,” he said.

Deploying planes to meet the approaching aircraft, Sutton said his ship was credited with shooting down all 125 planes.

Following the excitement, a Japanese submarine fired a torpedo at the USS Saratoga, hitting the ship. “We were dead in the water for eight hours,” he said.

A time of anxiety, the period following the attack was difficult for the men onboard, according to Sutton. “You hope you don’t have to go swim with the sharks,” he said.

Surviving the attack, the Saratoga spent some 30 days at Pearl Harbor in dry dock being repaired. The hole left by the torpedo measured 60 by 80 feet.

Serving his country was something Sutton felt strongly about. “Somebody’s got to take care of the country. You may just as well be part of the team.”

Sutton said he was glad to serve, saying “I never regretted a moment of it.”

Veterans profiles are a weekly feature. To submit a profile, contact CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson at 763-6991 or by e-mail at: