James H. Adkins
Biography: James Hamner Adkins was born on January 8, 1924, in Prince, West Virginia. He was the son of William M. Adkins and Martha Katherine Fleshman and attended Chestnut Knob Road school through the 8th grade. During the summer of 1936, at the age of 12, James started working in the coal mines on Highland Mountain. He then moved with his parents to Beelick Knob to work in the mine on Piti-me Mountain. He was affectionately called “Hammer” by his friends and family.
Service Time: James entered the service and was assigned to Company A of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion. During their training, James was given the nickname “Sheriff”, by the men of his unit. They shipped out from the New York port on October 20, 1943, and arrived in Northern Ireland on November 1, 1943. After receiving additional training in the U.K., they boarded ships and landed in France on D+36 with towed guns.
The 818th advanced across France, during August and September, to the vicinity of Metz and then supported operations along the Saar River until December, when they were moved to the Ardennes sector. They participated in the race across Germany beginning in March, 1945, and converted to M36’s in early April. They finally ended the war in Kienberg, Czechoslovakia. James received a Purple Heart with Oak Left Cluster for a gunshot wound and other injuries. He left the service at the rank of Private First Class.
James returned home and went to work for the Union Mines and the Meadow River Lumber Company. On April 8, 1950, he married the former Leoma Forren, who was born in Meadow Bridge, WV. She was the daughter of Alexander Forren and Sallie Lora Knapp. The couple remained in Meadow Bridge and had six children, Ernest born in 1951, Anita in 1953, Geneva in 1954, Mary in 1960, Tina in 1964 and Lula in 1967.
In his spare time, James enjoyed working and building on the family house and farm. He later took up an interest in the CB (Citizen’s Band Radio) and talked to people all over the world, including England, Canada, Norway, Germany and South America. His handle, or name he was known by on the radio, was “Wagon Master”. Leoma’s handle was “Keeper of the Poor Farm”.
He was also a member of the UMWA (United Mine Workers Association) 29th District and the VFW Post 4484, in Rainelle, WV. James passed away on November 17, 1994, and was buried on the family homestead in Meadow Bridge. I want to thank James’ daughter, Anita, for providing the information and photo for this tribute.