James H. Hart (1943/09/03)

A "shave tail" lieutenant continued to fight.

James Howard Hart was born in Oklahoma in 1918 to Mr. and Mrs. Carmel Hart. Along with his parents and two brothers, Jay and Clarence, he moved to the Pajaro Valley about 1930. He spent his formative years in Watsonville and attended local grammar schools before entering Watsonville High School about 1932.

Following his graduation in 1936, Hart was employed locally in the entertainment field and in 1938, enrolled in Salinas Junior College.

In 1940 James Hart joined Company C of the 194th Tank Company and by 1941 had risen to the rank of corporal. He left Salinas with the tankers when they were ordered to Fort Lewis, Washington, in February 1941, and sailed with them in September aboard the SS Coolidge as it passed through the Golden Gate Bridge bound for Manila.

Shortly after arriving in the Philippines, Hart was commissioned a second lieutenant. He remained with the company through the defense of the islands and during its last stand and surrender on the Bataan Peninsula.

After his battalion was forced to surrender on April 9, 1942, Lt. Hart most likely continued to fight on. In 1942 the War Department informed the Hart family that their son James was "Missing in Action." The family waited in vain to hear that he was a prisoner of war. On Christmas Eve 1945, they received a telegram from the adjutant general of the army stating, "An official message has now been received which states that he [Lt. James Howard Hart] was killed in action on Sept. 3, 1943 in Bamban Tarlac, Philippine Islands." This would suggest that he had either escaped from a POW camp, or remained free to fight for a year and five months after his unit had surrendered. Lt. Hart's reported death occurred approximately 100 miles from where his unit had surrendered in 1942. His body was never recovered.

(NARA2; WRP May 26, 1942 1:1, December 26, 1945 1:6; 194TB; Photo-WHS)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1940s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art and History.
Identifier: RO-HART,J

Citation

Nelson, Robert L. “James H. Hart (1943/09/03).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4415. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.