Navy veteran recalls time in World War II

Published 9:28 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

World War II Navy veteran Jim Nix teared up Friday when he talked about burying fellow veterans in the sea during the war in the South Pacific.

“[Our ship] took on all the wounded that we could because the hospital ships were full. To bury our boys at sea, we wrapped them up in canvas and put them in a five-inch shell weight between their legs and let them fly down the slides,” Nix said. “We’d have a service and I recall the waves, it is so heart rendering to think about. It was just as if God was reaching out of the waves and receiving them unto his own.”

Nix served as a radio operator, third class for the U. S. Navy and took part in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Before there were ever ideas about World War II, Nix’s family moved to West Point from Lowell in 1934 during the Great Depression.  His family moved around often for his father’s construction jobs, but their hometown was always West Point.

“From my years of being in different schools, we would always maintain a home here,” he said.

After graduating from high school, Nix went to the North Georgia Military School for a year. He was then going to join the military when suffered injuries from falling at a synthetic rubber plant building in Louisville in 1943.

“I was not fit for service because of the injuries I had suffered in that fall,” he said.

However, he soon recovered and joined the Navy where he worked in communication and amphibious command ships in 1944.

“By March 15, I was inducted in the Navy. I was given the opportunity to choose whatever service I wanted to be in. I thought that I’d rather be in the Navy,” he said.

He worked in the radio telephone communication ship and on an amphibious personal assault ship for hauling Marines into battles.

“We would command an AGC command flag ship, where all of the communications of a specific fleet would occur,” he said.

One of the challenges of his position on the USS Lubbock was avoiding submarines.

“Basically, from that time on [of boarding it] we were just in the South Pacific dodging submarines and picking up Marines,” he said. “I stayed mostly in the wheelhouse of our ship as a communications person.”

Nix remembers carrying Marines into Iwo Jima in February 1945.

“We carried the Fifth Marines Divison into Iwo Jima, that was the day of the invasion,” he said. “When I came topside that morning, I had no idea, I was just amazed there were ships as far as the eye can see. It was an Armada.”

In fact, Nix was present when the Marines raised the U.S. flag at Mount Suribachi twice.

“I was guarding the communications system, and I was watching when the first flag went up, there were cheers and so forth. Later on, the one Joe Rosenthal took the picture of was raised and he enshrined it. There were Navy and Marines in that group and all,” he said.

After the war, Nix went home to West Point and married his sweetheart, Dorothy Anne. He graduated from the University of Auburn with a bachelor of science degree in business in 1949.

Nix said from there he worked in 13 counties in Georgia, but West Point was always his home. He even owns some buildings downtown, including the Polka Dot Box Boutique.

“I guess I’m just an entrepreneur,” he said.

The veteran has been friends with LaGrange Army veteran Bill Addison for 65 years, he said.

“We first met through church and it’s been a lasting friendship through the years,” he said.

Excited as he is to tell his life story to people, Nix places all of it on his faith.

“God’s just been really good to [my family and I],” he said.