98-year-old WWII veteran promoted to lieutenant 75 years after earning rank

John James has received a long overdue honor.

Pat Loeb
September 29, 2018 - 10:00 pm
Lt James and daughter Dr. Marion Lane

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- It was a long overdue honor for a World War II veteran, promoted to lieutenant, 75 years after he earned the rank in the army.

John James completed officer training school in 1942, one of only 21 African American men in the class of 200. But his commission in 242nd Quartermaster Battalion would have put him in charge of white officers and so it was denied. He remained a private until his discharge. After years of lobbying by his daughter, Marion Lane, the Army approved his commission last March. 

Councilman Al Taubenberger was so moved by the story, he presented James with a proclamation at last week's city council meeting, decrying not only the unfair treatment of James, but the segregation in the Army at the time.

"Today, it is a diverse group that is the pride of this country showing every aspect and every ethnicity that the United States has, because what collects us as Americans is not a race, a group or religion or anything like that, it's an idea for freedom," Taubenberger said. "And Lt. James represents that."

James, now 98, was delighted.

"Wonderful, beautiful," he said, "good to be in America."

But he let his daughter make the formal acceptance.

"My father is very proud to be an American," Lane said, "because only in this country can injustice be rectified."