Harold was born Jan 18, 1918 and lived in Chalsey, North Dakota. His draft card noted that he worked at the Safeway Store.
He claimed an eighth grade education and that he worked as a laborer or had but had two years unemployment, which may have led him to join the military.
He joined the US Navy and served as a Fireman First Class aboard the USS Sturtevant. Harold died as a result of the explosion of his ship on April 26, 1942 when the USS Sturtevant was sunk.
The ship was escorting convoys off the east coast beginning in mid-1940 and later in the Caribbean.
The Sturtevant was a Clemson Class destroyer built in 1919. She sank after hitting an allied mine off Key West with a loss of 15 crew members (of a total crew compliment of 114). With his position deep in the ship, tending to the boilers, James would have been one of those more likely to killed in an explosion.
Records indicate that no one on board was made aware of the minefield location.
On 26 April 1942, the Sturtevant departed Key West in company with a convoy. Just over two hours out of port, a violent explosion lifted the ship’s stern m the water, but caused no apparent damage. Thinking herself under submarine attack the destroyer responded by dropping two depth charge barrages. About a minute after she dropped the second barrage of charges, a second detonation rocked the ship. She began to settle rapidly, but on an even keel. Minutes later, a third explosion ripped her keel apart beneath the after deckhouse. The midships section sank immediately, and the stern settled soon thereafter. The bow, curiously, remained above water for several hours. Finally, however, all but the crow’s nest disappeared beneath the waves.
ancestry.com, US Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925-1963, US Navy Muster Rolls
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smart phone app that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen's name and read his/her story.