James Robinson was born in Toledo, Ohio on July 10, 1919, and in 1927 his father moved the family to Waco, Texas. In 1935, when he was 16 years old, he enlisted in the Texas National Guard, and the day after he was discharged from the National Guard, on June 2, 1939, he enlisted in the United States Army. James was a professional soldier, who by 1942 was a Master Sergeant. His abilities did not go unrecognized by the Army. In 1942 he requested to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS), in the Army Air Force. His request for OCS was approved, however, there was one glaring exception, he was sent to Field Artillery OCS. On May 13, 1943, he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant.
While James was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, he established a relationship with Vina Elizabeth Crawford and married her on January 4, 1942. On December 14, 1942, Vina gave birth to a daughter, Dolores. During the holiday season of 1944, James’ wife and daughter visited Camp Van Doran in Mississippi. Little did they know it would be the last time they would see each other.
As the war raged in Europe, First Lieutenant James Robinson, with the 861st Field Artillery Battalion, 63rd Infantry Division, entered the war on July 11, 1944, coming ashore at Marseille, France. Immediately the 861st was thrust into heavy fighting. On February 20, 1945, James was made the foreword observer for Company A, First Battalion, 253rd Regiment. A forward observer with a field artillery unit was one of the most dangerous positions in World War II. On April 3, 1945, James wrote to Vina, “Darling I am not in any danger, don’t worry about me just plan on having a good time when I get home.” This is the last letter James wrote.
On April 6, 1945, Company A was facing the 17th SS Panzer Division, 1800 strong and heavily dug in on high ground. During the battle, A Company lost their Commanding Officer and James lost his reconnaissance man along with his radio operator. When his radio operator went down, James took the 78 pound SCR 610 radio knowing he would have to call in artillery support. By this time James was the only remaining officer, with no other options he took command of the small group. At 1600 hour the small group, numbering 19, received orders to take the village of Kressbach. James inspired the men, leading the attack himself and killing 10 of the enemy. As he led the advance on the village, a shell fragment hit him in the neck; he was bleeding profusely, but managed to call in an artillery strike on the town. The village was taken and sometime after he was mortally wounded, he made the following radio transmission:
“Evans, I want you to gather up all my belongings and send them home to my wife…I don’t think I will make it.”
At 1900 he died.
The events which followed were all testimony to the bravery, personal charisma, fortitude and strength of Lieutenant James Robinson, Jr. Several men, enlisted and officers, witnessed the activity of James on that fateful day, April 6, 1945. On October 2, 1945 James was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
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