James A. Hammons
Biography: James Alexander Hammons, “Bob”, was born on February 8, 1922, in Forsyth County, North Carolina. He was the son of Pierce Hammons and Amanda Hunter and attended local schools through the 12th grade. His enlistment record indicates that he worked as a sales clerk prior to the war.
Service Time: Bob entered the service on September 2, 1942, at Camp Croft, South Carolina. After his basic training, he was assigned to Company A of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion and specifically with the 2nd Section of 1st Platoon.
The 825th sailed from the New York port on May 30th, 1944, aboard the Queen Elizabeth, arriving in Scotland on June 5th. After an additional 2 months of training, the men and equipment were loaded on LST’s and arrived on Utah Beach in Normandy, France. They were equipped with 3″ towed guns and initially assigned to the Communications Zone and they performed 12th Army Group security duties between August and December, 1944.
The battalion entered combat near Malmedy, Belgium, on December, 17th. The next morning, two 3” anti- tank guns of Lieutenant Jack Doherty’s 1st and 2nd Sections, 1st Platoon, Company A, were knocked out by Kampfgruppe Peiper after crossing the Amblève River bridge at Stavelot. They made contact with the enemy and First and Second Squad were unable to reach the positions designated due to enemy fire. When they attempted to withdraw and take up positions to return enemy fire, they were hit by direct fire from the Germans, knocking out the two guns and half-tracks towing them.
As the result of this action, six men from 1st Squad were killed and two were wounded. All the men of the second squad sought refuge in nearby houses. Realizing there was nothing they could do, they retreated to a basement where there was a potato bin and got inside. The only weapon they had was the gun taken by Bob, and a carbine with the barrel filled with mud. Bob was fortunate to have survived to re-tell the events in a short story he wrote.
The 825th returned to security duties on January, 16. 1945. They received credit for participation in the campaigns of Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe. Bob was awarded the Bronze Star and left the service at the rank of Sergeant. He also served during the Korean War.
After returning to North Carolina, Bob began a career as a fireman with the Winston-Salem Fire Department. He stayed with the department for 15 years before joining the Winston-Salem Police Department as Officer Friendly, which is now known as the D.A.R.E. program. He married Helen L. Beasley, daughter of J.W. and Mary Beasley, and remained with her until her death in 1999. He later married Linda.
In his spare time, Bob was a fan of the Atlanta Braves and enjoyed watching their games. He was involved in the Youth for Christ program and coached Pop Warner Football for many years. He was a long-time member of the Calvary Baptist Church and later the Center Grove Baptist Church.
Bob passed away on April 27, 2014, and was buried in the Forsyth Memorial Park in Winston-Salem, NC. I want to thank Serge Lemaire for providing the information and photos for this tribute. I also want to thank Find A Grave contributor Rsbldad for the use of the grave marker photo.