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James "Jim" Scollard Hoolihan
- Name: James "Jim" Scollard Hoolihan
- Location of Birth: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- Date of Birth: July 10, 1918
- Date of Death: February 21, 2011 (92 years old)
- High School and Class: 1936 - Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
- College: Itasca Community College - Coleraine, Minnesota
St. John's University - Collegeville, Minnesota
- Highest Rank: CAPT (Captain)
- Branch: Army
- Other Branch:
- Date Sworn In: June 4, 1941
- Place Sworn In: Fort Snelling, St. Paul, Minnesota
- Date of Discharge:
- Place of Discharge:
- Military Awards:
Combat Infantry Badge
- Military Highlights:
Served with Company E, 341st Infantry, 86th Division
On June 4, 1941, James was one of the first draftees called into service. He served our country initially as a private and later attended Officer Training School. He was commissioned as Lieutenant in 1942 and as Captain of a rifle company in 1944. His proudest military achievement was being commanding officer of Co. E of the 341st Infantry of the 86th "Blackhawk" Division and leading them in combat through World War II.
Article written by Britta Arendt, Herald-Review Staff Writer, dated May 26, 2004:
"World War II hero Jim Hoolihan
A Story of love, war and coming home
Editor's note: This story is the third in a four-part series by the Herald-Review to honor a few of our local WWII heroes. This series takes place in conjunction with a local program to honor WWII veterans which will be conducted over Memorial Day weekend at the IRA Civic Center. The dedication of a national memorial honoring WWII veterans will take place May 29 in Washington D.C.
On June 4, 1941, Jim Hoolihan was one of a dozen men--the largest group from Itasca County up to that time--to be drafted for World War II. Little did this young 21-year-old from northern Minnesota know, that he would soon lead an entire company into some of the worst warfare of the European Theater.
With vivid detail on nearly 100 pages, Hoolihan recounts his memories of the war in a book entitled "Jim's War Days"--a memoir for his children and grandchildren, the epic of his younger days, and a love story. It's a chronicle of his life between June 4, 1941 and November 4, 1945. And Jim's writing is poetic as he describes the difficulties of departing Grand Rapids for the unknown, leaving behind a beautiful new bride, meeting face to face with the enemy and proudly marching past General George S. Patton.
Remembering both the good times and the bad, Jim writes of the pride he felt when he became Captain James S. Hoolihan, Company E, 341st Infantry 86th Division in the United States Army. But he also writes of his transition from civilian to solder, from the Land of 1,000 Lakes to the bullet-ridden banks of the Rhine River.
"June 4, 1941, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, as best as I can recall was a beautiful spring day. The trees were all leafed out in their greenery as were the flowers," wrote Jim. "Nowhere is spring more appreciated than in Northern Minnesota, with the long winter over at last."
Jim recalls the morning he reported to the draft board at the Itasca County Courthouse then, just two hours later, boarded a Greyhound bus for Fort Snelling. And he tells of how he planned to meet his high school sweetheart and fiancée, Alice Lacroix of Deer River, in the Twin Cities as many times as possible before he was to leave for basic training.
"As the bus moved south out-of-town over the bridge of the Mississippi River and a few miles further out and the bridge over Pokegama Lake, a kind of terrible reality and finality set in," described Jim.
Although he was on his way to eventually earning a Silver Star for bravery, Jim was used to picnicking with Alice on the shores of Pokegama as they listened to the sounds of Glen Miller, Tom Dorsey and Lawrence Welk.
"Why on this beautiful summer day with the blue water of Pokegama Lake sparking waves, reflecting the sunlight, why must we have to leave it behind?" he wrote. "Because the Army said so, that's why! But why couldn't the call have come in January or February with the snow piled high and cold weather that one would be happy to leave behind?"
Jim explained how he was both homesick and lovesick as he trained with the 20th Infantry Regiment then went on to officer's school and eventually became a captain in the 86th Division.
"My mother saw to it that I had a good sturdy rosary for going into the service," wrote Jim. "At night, when crawling onto my cot, I took my rosary from my pocket and while laying and waiting to go to sleep, I would say my rosary silently to myself. I don't remember completing the entire rosary very often for usually I would fall asleep before completing it. The beads would be lying along side my body when I awoke in the morning."
It was Friday the 13th of April, 1945, when Jim and his company encountered their worst nightmare. Meeting resistance near Priorei, Germany, Jim described the gruesome scenes of war. "A German soldier with a Panzerfaust came out of a house after dark and fired into the back of a 6x6 truck loaded with F Company (U.S.) men. I will not say anything more about the sight and smell of that scene. After just about six hours, I knew quite well what General Sherman meant when he said, 'War is hell.'"
Jim was honored with a Silver Star for the actions he displayed on that Friday. His quick assembly of the platoons helped Company E spear-head a battle which, eventually, led to the U.S. victory. Although he is very proud of his Silver Star, the medal he cherishes the most is his Combat Infantry Badge for participating in full combat--an honor that a lot of generals would love to have said Jim, smiling proudly.
"All of a sudden we were thrust into a situation far different from our quiet watch on the Rhine. This was face to face with the enemy," described Jim of the day his company met the enemy head-on. "The bullets were flying, men were killed, others wounded. There was some, noise of gunfire, men yelling, vehicles roaring, confusion to no end and somehow some kind of order."
In the days to follow, the action did not subside as Jim's company joined with General Patton's 3rd Army for the attack on southern Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. One morning around 5 a.m., Jim remembers crossing the Danube River on a small foot bridge with his men. There, standing on the side of the bridge, talking with the division commander, was General Patton watching them cross.
"I think he got a good look at me, but he didn't say anything," said Jim of that first time he saw Patton. Impressed that the general would be out with the men in the early hours of the day, Jim added, "It's another example of General Patton as an upfront general. He was my hero, you might say."
One of the last units to arrive in Europe, Jim and the 86th Division were the first to be sent home. They were greeted by a big welcome home celebration in New York City then given 30-days leave before they would be sent to the Philippines.
"We were very proud to be dressed in the smart looking jackets and with our coveted Combat Infantry Badges on, the war over and spring in the air," wrote Jim who still fits into his Army dress jacket at age 85. In fact, Alice said the other veterans often joke at their reunions about what she feeds Jim to keep him so trim.
"What a deliriously happy day that was arriving at Ft. Snelling. A beautiful summer day and my wife and two little ones there to meet me," described Jim. "I looked anxiously forward to seeing Pokegama Lake in June. It was four years ago in June when I left for the Army at Ft. Snelling and crossed the bridge on Pokegama Lake, headed south, not knowing if or when I would see this beautiful lake again."
The members of Jim's Company E were given a copy of his book, along with the Hoolihan's eight children and grandchildren. As often as they can, Alice and Jim attend 86th Infantry Division reunions conducted all over the U.S.
"In war or in peace we go, go, go," said Jim of those in the 86th."
- Wars Involved:
World War II
- MIA / POW:
- Civilian Life:
James happily spent most of his 92 years in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
He married his lifelong love, Alice Lacroix, on December 31, 1941, and lived to celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary.
Jim was an employee of Northwestern Bell Telephone Company for 42 years. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the VFW and the Telephone Pioneers. Known for having a song in his head and heart to celebrate any occasion, he spent 10 wonderful years singing with his friends in the Blandin Male Chorus.
The last surviving member of a family of 12 children, he was preceded in death by all of his dearly beloved siblings and their Mama and Papa.
He is survived by his faithful and cherished wife, Alice; and eight children, James W. (Brenda), Daniel D. (Rosemary), Cathy Koering (Jerry), Robert J. (Jackie), Patty (Chris) Jane Dooher (David), Bill (Laura), and Matt (Kelly). He is also survived by twenty grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren, all of whom adored him, and many special nieces and nephews.
A dearly beloved man, he leaves a legacy of faith and love and honor. He died peacefully in the arms of his family and in the peaceful haven of Epiphany Assisted Living in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. He leaves us to join his family who have gone on to the next world ahead of him, their spirits joyfully awaiting him. His family would like to thank, and are deeply grateful to, all those who helped him and us through these last weeks and months, the staff at Epiphany Assisted Living, Allina Hospice, Mercy Hospital, Park River Estates, Grand Itasca, and Grand Village.
James Scollard Hoolihan will be deeply missed. His spirit lives on in all of us, and especially so when we are singing.
James died at Epiphany Assisted Living in Coon Rapids, Minnesota and is buried in Itasca Calvary Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. (Plot C-B-10-16)
- Tribal Affiliation(s):