JAMES BELL SHOLAR JR.
James B Sholar was born December 04, 1919 and
grew up near Gracey on the Trigg/Christian County line. He was the son of
James Bell Sholar and Mary Gaines. He died May 02, 1973 in Hopkinsville,
KY. Jim was a Navy corpsman during W.W.II. He was listed as a Pharmacist's
Mate First Class V6 USNR, serial number 634-23-24. Jim entered active service
on April 8, 1942. He saw action in the Pacific Theater and went ashore with
a Marine Corps unit at Guadalcanal. He never talked much about his war experience.
He said he never took his pistol out of its holster during any battle. Like
the other medics in the Pacific Theatre, he painted over the Red Cross on
his helmet and did not wear an arm band since it made him more of a target.
While he was at Guadalcanal for the duration of the battle he would
remember and recall the the sound of "washing machine Charlie's" plane
flying over Henderson Field at night. A terrible memory that haunted him
was placing dog tags between the incisors of dead Marines before putting
them into body bags. He also spoke of giving intentional morphine overdoses
to the hopelessly wounded. He would never talk about Peleliu. I assume he
lost a great many friends there. He was wounded in the left arm and chest
by a machine gun blast as he tried to reach a wounded marine. The marine
died, and it was hours before anyone could get to corspman Sholar.
Peleliu a six-mile by 2-mile coral islet with a fringing reef. Peleliu's
western-facing beaches were chosen for the invasion of September 15, 1944
Peleliu was a fight to capture an airstrip on a far-flung speck of coral
in the western Pacific. And, as with previous island battles, the Americans
would prevail, but at a cost no one anticipated, against a fanatical enemy
whose new defense strategy would make the invaders pay dearly for every chunk
of coral taken.
Marine casualties on Peleliu (9/15/44-11/25/44) were 1,336 killed and 6,032
wounded. Navy casualties were 195 killed and 505 wounded. Army casualties
(81st Infantry Division) were 110 killed and 717 wounded, with 264 killed
and 1,335 wounded on Angaur (9/17/44-10/21/44). The Japanese lost an estimated
10,650 men. An additional 301 became prisoners of war.
Unknown to Allied planners before the assault on Peleliu, was a series
of coral limestone ridges in the interior of the island which the Japanese
had suitably adapted for their new doctrine of "defense in depth". Unseen
from the air because of thick jungle growth, the ridges were known collectively
as Bloody Nose Ridge or the Umurbrogol. It was in this tortured landscape
that the battle would rage for over 2 months and end when the last pocket
of Japanese were eliminated. With defeat imminent and the Americans fast
approaching, the Japanese commander, Col. Nakagawa, committed ritual suicide
in his last command post.
After the battle at Peleliu, James received the Purple Heart and was
evacuated to New Caledonia. He did not see any more combat, although his
unit went on to Iwo Jima where it was decimated. He always said that if he
hadn't been wounded at Peleliu, he would have been killed on Iwo Jima.
He was honorably discharged at the U.S Naval Personnel Separation Center
Great Lakes, Illinois November 27,1945. For his actions and bravery under
fire James Bell Sholar received the Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit
Citation, Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific w/ 3 stars, & Victory Ribbon.
He was also issued the Honorable Service USNR Discharge Buttons and Discharge
Emblems. His Honorable Discharge was recorded in the Christian County Court
House November 29, 1945.
Colonel James G. Sholar
This memorial is proudly contributed by Col. James G. Sholar.
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