James “Ike” was born in Independence and graduated from William Chrisman High School. On June 3, 1943 he enlisted in the Navy, and after training in California was headed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as a cook on a destroyer. Serving as Cook 2nd Class in the military had many benefits, which he soon learned.

James “Ike” was born in Independence and graduated from William Chrisman High School. On June 3, 1943 he enlisted in the Navy, and after training in California was headed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as a cook on a destroyer. Serving as Cook 2nd Class in the military had many benefits, which he soon learned.

Ike had a brother in the Marines at the same time and they were able to meet in Honolulu for a little R&R before his brother was shipped out to Guam. He remembers Easter Sunday with his brother was as close to home as he could get. He didn’t see his brother again until they both returned home.  Another chance meeting was when his cousin who was in the Army looked him up in Pearl Harbor and was able to bring news from home.

Ike saw several Independence boys passing through Hawaii and each time he was able to meet with someone he knew was like a homecoming for them both.

 At one time, the USS Missouri was asking for volunteers and Ike applied, however, was turned down because they didn’t need a Baker 2nd Class that he was. This was a disappointment to him, but he knew he was fortunate not to be on the front lines of battle. Ike tells a story of when a colonel cut his hand on a can of food and when Ike called for a medic, nearly everyone on base responded because it was a colonel who was injured. And when a pastor invited Ike over for dinner and seeing that the family had no butter, Ike took some from the base kitchen to the pastor’s house. The pastor said God must have wanted him to have it. Another story was when Ike would feed Marines late at night and they would reciprocate by letting him pass through the gates during blackout hours if he wanted to go to town. This was what he learned that being a cook had its benefits.

After two years in Pearl Harbor, Ike returned to California as 2nd Lt. He left the Navy in 1946. Ike met and married his wife, Agnus, and they have celebrated 54 years together.

Ike’s military history may be viewed in the Veterans’ Hall in the Independence Parks and Recreation Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple.



– This is part of a weekly feature on local veterans by Helen Matson, volunteer program director for the city of Independence, 816-325-7860.