|Birth: ||Jul. 3, 1896|
|Death: ||May 4, 1985|
Husband of Mae Sanders .
He was known as "Uncle Jim" to everyone in Sanders, Kentucky.
The Marine Corps is a proud service built on a fine tradition of excellence and pride. Everyone who serves in the Corps is affected in one way or another.
There are many jingles and slogans about the Marine Corps; "The Few, to Proud" and "We're lookin' for a few good men," are just a couple. James W. Sanders fits the Marine Corps description perfectly. He started his own tradition in the Corps 63 years
After enlistiing in the Marine Corps on April 27, 1917, and shortly after completing basic training, Sanders was assigned to the machine gun company of the 73rd Marine Regiment. His first platoon sergeant at the time was Sergeant Dan Daley, two time Medal of Honor recipient. "Dan was a real hardcore Marine,'" Sanders recalls. "However, he had a heart of gold. If you needed help, he was always there."
Sanders and his company fought in many battles during World War I on the front in France, battles that most of the Marines today can only read about in history books... conflicts in the Verdun Sector, Bois de Belleau, the battle of Belleau Wood. The disease-stricken Toul Sector, Soissons Front and the Champagne Front are just a few of the engagements and skirmishes Sanders fought in.
"We walked from one front to another," he said. "We didn't have any trucks, only a mule to pull the machine guns."
The 84-year-old leather- neck remembers each battle as though it was yesterday.
"At Belleau Wood we lost 5,000 of the 8,000 men that went into that battle; at Soissons, our regiment went in with 4,000 men. We lost 3,000." While at the Toul Sector, Sanders' entire regiment suffered from ptomaine poisoning. When asked about the trenches, Sanders said, "Lice, full of lice."
Just one shell
James Sanders' most vivid recollection of the "War to end all wars," is of Nov. 1, 1915. He and his regiment were fighting in the Meuse-Argonne Sector. "One German shell killed 15 of us and wounded 12 more," he said. "The chaplain later told me that I was the only one of the 12 injured who actually survived. You might say that's when I got gun shy!"
Both of Sanders' knee caps were blown off, his right arm hung by a thread and he was permanently blinded in his right eye as the result of that single shell.
Dragged around in the snow for some time, and being written off as dead, Sanders was finally transported to a field hospital where his arm was amputated at the shoulder and emergency treatment was given. "The bad thing about the time before I got to the hospital was when someone took my boots. They thought I was dead. I guess I fooled them."
"I blacked out"
His memory of the ordeal is very clear, but as he says, "I finally blacked out when they had to cut off my arm without any pain killer." The war was over for Sanders; he returned to the United States on March 23, 1919 and was admitted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia for more surgery. On March 20, 1920, minus an arm, without the use of one leg and blind in one eye, James W. Sanders was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps... alive. For his distinguished military service, Sanders was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, a citation from the French government and the Croix de Guerre.
As well as being a part of Marine Corps history, James Sanders was the start of a family tradition. His son, Newton, served in the Marine Corps during World War II. Newton's son, Barry, saw action in Vietnam as a Marine and is currently on active duty today. Assigned to Recruiting Station Louisville, Ky., Barry is a gunnery sergeant selected for promotion to master sergeant.
James Sanders has passed the Marine Corps story to each member of the Sanders family through his firsthand accounts of history- making events. James W. Sanders is indeed classified as a man of "Quality," "One of the few and very proud." He is a Marine, forever.
"But I'm Tough."
For World War I veteran, scars represent "a rank no one can take away".
His unconquerable spirit belies his 83 years. The joy he commands from life glosses over the physical handicaps he has borne since Wolrd War I.
Jim Sanders, born In 1896 In Newport, lives alone in Sanders, a tiny town in Carroll County. His wife, Mae, has been confined to a nursing home in Carrollton for the past 18 months. Sanders does his own shopping, cooking, housekeeping and generally fends for himself, despite his age and disabilities that would have defeated a lesser man.
Sanders is proud of his service with the Marines during World War I. He is equally proud of his wounds - five scars, the loss of his right arm and right eye and leg injuries received when an artillery shell exploded near him in the battle of the Argonne in France.
"These scars represent a 'rank' that no one can ever take away from me," Sanders said.
He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Silver Cross and the Croix de Guerre for his action in World War I.
Sanders, whose living room displays a Marine emblem, started a tradition of Marine service. His son, Newton, served in World War II, and a grandson, Barry Sanders, saw duty in Vietnam.
The son lives in Burlington, Kentucky. A daughter; Rosemary, lives in Cincinnati, and another daughter, Rebecca, lives in Louisville.
After the war, Sande~ farmed In Carroll County, raising pigs, cows. colts, tobacco and wheat. He broke horses for himself and others "...if the horses were too mean for them."
Sanders and his wife were married 58 years ago tomorrow, and his hopes for the New Year are "the strength to help my wife and make It through another year. But I'm tough," he said, with characteristic optimism.
Sanders is, however, looking ahead to the coming of the grim reaper. He insists that a Baptist minister friend of his, Afton Linger, preach his funeral. But Sanders feared that Linger would pass on before him, so he had Linger record the eulogy, just in case.
Sanders also goes to bed some nights with his hardtoed shoes on.
"I want to be sure they don't hurt my toes If I should kick the bucket In my sleep," he said with a laugh.
"I've known thousands of people and loved them all. I never held grudges against anyone . ... I hope I never die with a grudge in my heart"
The happy go lucky Sanders doesn't see himself as handi-capped or having made a sacrifice at the Argonne.
The man whose blood ran on the battlefleld and died, and his mother, those are the people who made the sacrifice," he said.
Newton Sanders notes "..Dad was a very determined man and helped everyone he could. One of the many things he learned was to tie a double bow knot with only one hand."
Ghent Masonic Cemetery
Created by: J. L. Cobb
Record added: Nov 08, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 22757061