Local World War II Veteran Celebrates 98th Birthday | News, Sports, Jobs

Local World War II veteran James Currie Jr. celebrated his 98th birthday on November 3. Currie was surprised with 98 balloons by his family to celebrate. Photos submitted

As the nation prepares to recognize Veterans Day, the oldest member of the Henry Mosher American Legion Post 638 celebrated his 98th birthday.

To celebrate local resident James Currie Jr.’s 98th birthday last week, his family surprised him with 98 balloons.

Currie served as a member of the 4th Naval Construction Battalion, the Seabees, in the United States Navy during World War II.

After being drafted into the United States Army at the age of 18 in 1943, Currie’s failing eye exam led him to join the Merchant Navy. After enlisting in the Marines, Currie was quickly drafted into his position with the Navy.

Currie received his training and served as a courier at Camp Peary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Currie also received his advanced training at Pearl Harbor. Currie’s 4th Naval Construction Battalion was the first group of Seabees to leave the United States for service in 1944.

Currie is pictured seated in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington Cemetery. Currie told his son the last time he was there, “he was sitting right there”, on Easter morning before he left in 1944.

As part of the Seabees, Currie completed various construction projects on the Pacific Island of Guam from September 1944 to July 1945. Construction projects included Guam’s Port of Apra and airfields that serviced B-29 bombers in The pacific.

After completing projects in Guam, Currie was stationed in Okinawa at a critical time in World War II. Seabee construction projects in Okinawa included supply depots, hospitals, port facilities, a road system, seaplane bases, tank farms, and encampments. Currie was one of nearly 55,000 Seabees from four brigades to take part in the work on Okinawa.

Prior to the deactivation of the 4th Naval Construction Battalion in 1945, Currie survived the devastating Typhoon Louise on October 9, 1945.

In April 1946, Currie was officially discharged from the Navy and returned to Jamestown. In the years following his service, he was an active member of the Henry Mosher American Legion Post 638.

During Currie’s time in the service, he attained the rank of firefighter first class in the Navy.

In 2019, the American Legion post officially recognized Currie’s 95th birthday and his service to his country.

“James Currie Jr. served his nation in the most honorable way and was a faithful member of the Henry Mosher American Legion Post 638 for 50 years, after his most honorable discharge from the United States Navy in April 194”, they said.

Legion Commander Roger Bingham Jr. described Currie as a “very nice sir.”

“He hasn’t had the chance to stop as often lately because he’s gotten a bit older,” Bingham said, “but it’s always great to see him when he stops. We’re very proud and happy to have him.”

In addition to his service in the United States and his active involvement in the Legion, Currie lived a life of dedication and adventure.

ADVENTURE SEEKER

Laurie Proia, Currie’s daughter, said her father was always looking for adventure.

“He always loved adventure” she says. “When he was young he had motorcycles, much to the death of my grandmother. Then he became interested in scuba diving as a hobby, then he loved skydiving. These things would all make a mother pray, I’m sure.

Currie’s parents, James and Jessie, and brother, Andrew, arrived from Scotland. Currie was born in Jamestown on November 11, 1924. He attended Lakin Avenue Elementary School, Lincoln Jr. High School, and Jamestown High School, before being drafted into World War II.

Currie was married to Marilyn Steward for 56 years before her death in 2004. He has four children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

An active member of his community, Currie resided in his current home on Garfield Road for 69 years.

Currie’s career included work with Art Metal, Marlin Rockwell and Blackstone. He was a member of Blackstone’s research and development division and worked on designing prototype radiators for automakers, including Cummins supercharged diesel engines.

An avid scuba diver, Currie was part of the Warren Scuba Dive and Recovery team. In addition to his scuba diving adventures, Currie was an avid skydiver and parachute enthusiast. Continuing his adventures late in life, Currie even hiked the Grand Canyon at the age of 84.

Proia said celebrating his father’s birthday was very special this year, especially considering the health issues Currie overcame during the summer months.

Currie tested positive for COVID-19 twice over the summer and ended up in hospital three times.

“We’re just grateful to have him,” said Proia.

A MISSED GENERATION

As the daughter of a military man, Proia said her service had a profound impact on their family.

“I think we’re more grateful to the military than we would have been if we hadn’t had a father in World War II,” she says. “We are perhaps more aware of the importance of having an army. We miss this generation.

Proia said that her father “sense of adventure” worn in the daily life of their family. She said he loves to travel and has visited several national landmarks on trips out west with his mother.

Currie’s son, Scott Currie, said his father’s skydiving exploits resulted in a memorable moment for the family.

“He once jumped out of a plane over his house on Garfield Road for his daughter’s birthday party,” he said. “His main parachute became tangled and his reserve parachute wrapped around the tangled main parachute. Fortunately, he landed safely, missing the neighbors pond and landing in his vegetable patch. birthday girl and the revelers chased him across the fields, laughing and cheering.

Proia said her father had remained active until recently, even walking along Garfield Road each day to greet passers-by on the street.

She said people can live up to her father’s example in the community by being “honest” and help others in need.

“Honesty would be really important,” she says. “Do whatever they can do, and if they have the ability to help someone else, they would do that too, think of someone other than themselves.”


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