James Elias Ward was born in Italy, TX on September 11, 1924 to Edna Emma Cantrell and James Martin Ward. He attended Italy Elementary, Junior High, and High School, was a member of the unscored-upon championship football team of 1940, final cumulative score being 374 – 0, and graduated with the Class of 1942.
He studied at Arlington for one year, then enlisted in the US Navy SeaBees September 7, 1943, as an Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class, Company A, 59th Battalion. He served in the Pacific on multiple islands, including Eniwetok and Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, the Marianas, Tinian, and Guam, as well as in occupied Japan. He was discharged on 23 April 1946. When he returned home, he went back to college in Arlington, and also held a job driving for the cotton gin.
Looking for direction, he re-enlisted in the US Army, with the rank of Sergeant, and was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division, stationed in Japan. He began jump training in December 1948 with the 511th Airborne Infantry Regiment. When the Korean Conflict began on 25 June 1950, elements of the 11th and 82nd were combined to create the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, which departed for Korea in early September 1950. He participated in the combat jumps at Sukchon-Sunchon on 20 Oct 1950 and Munsan-Ni on 23-Mar 1951. He was wounded on 25 May 1951, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart, and returned to the US. He received four bronze stars, a bronze arrowhead, and a Presidential Unit Citation, among other awards. After being discharged on 12 May 1952, he re-entered school at North Texas State University in Denton.
On August 28, 1954, he married Jo Ann Harris of Italy, TX, daughter of Ruby Hicks Bumpus and Robert January Harris. Their union was blessed with two daughters. Jamie's work took them to Midland and Wisconsin before retiring back to the Cantrell homestead, which they restored. A life-long Bible scholar, he made his permanent change of station to be with the Lord on December 8, 2018.
He is survived by his two daughters; Rhonda Tesch of Italy TX, and Lei Ann (Robin) Peavy of Huntsville AL; and five grandchildren: Jason Tesch of Middleton WI, Jenny (Matt) Orvis of Green Bay WI, Ashley Tesch of De Pere WI, Levi Peavy, and Joy Peavy, both of Huntsville AL. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of nearly 64 years, and his brother, Harold Lee.
“Everyone whom my Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me”
John 6:37 (GNT)
The family suggests memorial donations be made to The Doris Mitchell Scholarship Trust, PO Box 634, Italy, TX 76651