Art Fesler-Butts is a member of the Non-Commissioned Officers Association.
The LeRoy’s Spanish Trail Chapter of the Non-Commissioned Officers Association Chapter No. 104 in Tucson recently presented its World War II Medallion of Remembrance to U.S. Army Cpl. Garland James of Gold Canyon.
The medallion was presented by Apache Junction residents and auxiliary life members Dr. Anne Fesler-Butts, M.D., Lt. Col./retired; and Arthur Fesler-Butts, Sgt. 1st Class/retired.
The medallion has engraved on one side The Greatest Generation: Valor, Fidelity and Sacrifice with the NCOA on the head of an Eagle. The opposite side is an Eagle on the flat map of the Earth saying the NCOA encircled by the words: World War II Remembrance.
James enlisted into the U.S. Army in 1942, took his enlistment oath at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and went off to Abilene, Texas, for basic training. From there he went on to Fort Carson, Colorado, for his field hospital medic training. He was later transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he joined the 82nd Airborne Field Hospital Unit. He was assigned to the 82nd until his discharge in 1945.
From Fort Bragg, his unit was sent to England in preparation for the D-Day invasion. James said he was on a large ship with many men. I asked James how long were they on the beach before moving inland and his answer was they were there just about a day. He said that the he and those on the other ships stayed on board for a full day while the U.S. and the Allies bombarded the beaches of Normandy, France. James landed on Utah Beach and drove an ambulance while transporting wounded from both sides of the battle.
James’ campaigns included: the Ardennes, Belgium; The Rhineland; and other central European areas. The end of the war came to James while he was in The Rhineland.
Due to him and the thousands of others who worked to liberate France in World War II, a French ambassador, Philippe Etienne, came to Arizona and presented James the French Legion of Honor. This medal was presented to James on his 100th birthday as a token of the French people to show that they will never forget the dedication and devotion of all who came to Europe to fight against the evil tyranny that had darken much of Europe in the 1930s through 1945. The medal was created by Napoleon in 1802 to recognize the services of exceptional merit.
I asked James if ever felt scared during his campaigns; he told me no. He said he had his jobs to do and as long as he kept busy and kept his mind on his jobs, he did not feel scared.
Upon his discharge, James returned to Missouri and in 1946 while planning to attend a friend’s wedding met Mary Sands. Three days later they were married in a double wedding.
After a time, James moved from Missouri to California. He drove trucks before he decided to purchase his own business. He started a wholesale tire sales business in Tucson in 1959; keeping the business, he moved back to California in 1961. Sometime in 1966 he once again moved his family to Mesa.
He opened a business in Apache Junction where one of his sons runs one part of the business and a grandson runs an expanded part of the business. Today he still goes into James Tire and Motor-Sports almost daily — not to run things but just to have something to do.
His wife Mary died in 2011. He has four children, nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 17 great-great-grandchildren.
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