James E. Haynes Sr. was born in December 1923 in Dorchester County at Summerville, South Carolina. He was one of 12 children and grew up working on a small family farm. The family moved a few times before finding work at Middleton Place after settling in Charleston [Annotator’s Note: Middleton Place was a plantation in Charleston, South Carolina which utilized many enslaved people prior to the Civil War]. Haynes and his family were groundskeepers preparing the gardens for visiting tourists from throughout the world. It never seemed like a Depression to him as a child. He always had food and a place to stay. Haynes worked at Stark Naval General Hospital [Annotator’s Note: Stark General Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina was a receiving point for wounded returning from overseas] when Pearl Harbor was attacked [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. He was living on his own at that stage of his life. He recalls seeing wounded soldiers at the facility after they returned from overseas. He worked in the mess hall before being drafted into the Army. As a draftee having observed wounded returning from action, he was not hesitant about entering the service.
James E. Haynes Sr. was inducted into the US Army at Fort Jackson [Annotator’s Note: Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina]. His boot camp training was at Fort Belvoir in Virginia [Annotator’s Note: Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia] where he was trained as a combat engineer. He was taught to build bridges for the Army. When he deployed to England and France, he was assigned as a member of the 3198th Quartermaster Service Group in the Third Army under General Patton [Annotator's Note: US Army Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr.]. Haynes’ main duty while overseas was to guard German prisoners of war. A lot of them were nice and friendly. They were mainly high ranking officers. They were doing their duty and liked to talk about relatives they knew in the United States. They spoke very good English and seemed to know more about America than Haynes did [Annotator’s Note: he laughs]. One POW [Annotator’s Note: prisoner of war] tried to escape. The war had ended about a month before the POW’s escape. The escapee just wanted to get home. There were three Americans who apprehended the POW so there was little he could do but follow them back. Haynes was based in Verdun, France. When the war ended, the large formations of aircraft ceased flying overhead. Haynes served in a segregated military. Whites and Blacks trained and served separately until deployment. They were mixed after going overseas. That was fine. The troops got along together well.
James E. Haynes Sr. returned home and found it a little different after being away for four years. He thought about staying in the military, but decided to leave and make a career in a Naval Shipyard in Charleston [Annotator’s Note: Haynes worked 35 years at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina]. He was glad he did so. Postwar opportunities in the Army were limited for an individual without a high school education. Haynes went to Rota, Spain and worked on submarines in a shipyard there. He was employed as a supervisor over a crew of workers. After returning to the shipyard in Charleston, he would be called upon to return to Spain to work submarine overhauls. He enjoyed sightseeing in Spain on Sundays. He went to several sites with some of his men. He never wanted to attend a bullfighting contest [Annotator’s Note: he laughs].
James E. Haynes Sr. remembers before overseas deployment being in a PX [Annotator's Note: post exchange] in Pennsylvania. The races were segregated on the base, but could mix in the store. A lady dropped her baby and a Black soldier caught the child. The soldier kept the baby from hitting the floor. Nevertheless, a fight broke out [Annotator’s Note: he laughs]. It struck him that they were all in the war together, but the fight still happened [Annotator’s Note: he pauses]. After his overseas service, he was not disappointed with segregation at home. He was used to that situation. He had to go along with the flow. He served the country because he was drafted. He and two other friends who had also worked at Middleton Gardens [Annotator’s Note: Middleton Place or Gardens was a plantation in Charleston, South Carolina which utilized many enslaved people prior to the Civil War] went to the induction center together, but Haynes was the only one accepted into the Army [Annotator’s Note: he laughs]. Haynes was glad he served. He saw a lot of things while in the military. It changed his life by seeing different countries. He felt fine about serving for his country. World War 2 means a lot to America. Wars will continue in the future unless the Bible is wrong. Museums like The National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana] are important to teach younger generations about history and what the older generation did. When serving his country, Haynes had occasion to go on leave [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time] and visit local citizens in joints. People were nice in England and France. He spent four months in England prior to shipping out for France. He never was bombed by enemy forces because he was not up on the line. He only saw American aircraft. It was a long time ago. After the war in Europe, he reenlisted for one year. When he transferred from the European Theater, he was sent to a school in the Philippines for baking and cooking. He spent four years in the service. He subsequently spent 35 years in the shipyard [Annotator’s Note: Haynes worked 35 years at the Charleston Naval Shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina]. The Philippines and its people were all right. He did not see much damage there.
All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You may receive the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only the specific clips that you requested. Please contact the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to four weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address.
Your browser is out of date!
To get the best possible experience using our website, we recommend that you upgrade or download an alternative web browser. Downloading a new browser will make internet browsing safer as well as more enjoyable.