RANSOM, Jim, WWII & Korean War Veteran
Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 11/23/2016 at 15:31:31
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
March 15, 2015
Jim Ransom, 92, has served his country and his community
by Mary Pieper
CLEAR LAKE -- Jim Ransom said the four most important days of his life were getting married, his son being born, his daughter being born, and going on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in 2009.
"That was such a great day," said Ransom, 92, a who served in the Army during both World War II and the Korean War and was active in the community of Clear Lake when he came home.
Ransom, who moved to the Rockwell Community Nursing Home last year, was on the first of eight Honor Flights from Mason City to Washington. The flights, which are paid for through fundraising, gave area veterans a chance to visit the D.C. war memorials.
Although Ransom is now in a wheelchair, his mind is still sharp. He can remember and talk about the smallest details from throughout his long life, including his military service.
Ransom was born and raised in Clear Lake. He had an agricultural deferment during World War II because he was farming.
"All of a sudden I realized all my friends were gone," he said.
That's when he volunteered for the service. He joined the Army in March 1944 and served in the field artillery. He was sent to the Pacific and eventually went to Okinawa. By the time his unit arrived, most of the fighting on Okinawa was over. However, there was still some Japanese resistance on the island.
Ransom said the Japanese soldiers were hiding out in caves. Interpreters were sent into the caves to try to get them to surrender. The field artillery blew up the caves when the occupants refused to give up.
Ransom later joined the MPs at a stockade on Okinawa where 700 Japanese prisoners were being held. Each day the prisoners were sent out in trucks to different parts of the island to work. He remembers one prisoner in particular. He was nicknamed "Lefty" because he was left-handed.
"We were good friends," he said.
Lefty could speak English, so they would talk about where they were from and their families. Lefty even gave Ransom a pair of wooden clogs he made. Ransom says he still has them.
Ransom came home in 1946 and got married the following year. He and his wife, Barbara, had two children, Mike and Sue.
He joined the Army Enlisted Reserve after Mike was born because he needed some extra money. That's why he was sent to Korea in the early 1950s.
Ransom said it was difficult to leave. He remembers his son told him, "Daddy, don't go."
But in the end "everything was fine," he said.
Ransom said he is very fortunate that he was not injured during World War II or Korea. He noted he didn't have it as bad as those who were involved in hand-to-hand combat.
Ransom remembers being stationed near the 38th Parallel, where the North Koreans were anywhere from 2 to 9 miles away.
Infantrymen would pass through on their way to the front. When they returned four days later, they looked like "death warmed over," he said.
Ransom said he doesn't have nightmares like some veterans have. However, one thing that has stayed with him is the smell of dead bodies and burning powder. He said that's one thing no war movie can portray.
When Ransom returned from Korea, he worked odd jobs for a time. He also worked at a gas station.
Then he got a job at Northern Natural Gas in Ventura. He was there for 14 years. After that he worked for five years at Hydrocarbon Transportation Inc. in Clear Lake.
He and his wife then opened Ransom's Home Appliance Center, which was first located in Manly and then was moved to Clear Lake. After a decade running the store, Ransom got into the interior painting and floor covering business. He finally retired about 10 years ago.
Ransom is a 70-year member of the Clear Lake VFW. His father, who served in World War I, paid Ransom's dues for him in 1945 while he was in the Pacific so he could be a charter member.
Ransom said he enjoyed serving on the honor guard at funerals for local veterans and presenting the American flag to their families.
Ransom is currently the oldest continuous member of the Clear Lake United Methodist Church, where for many years he helped make pancakes during the annual Election Day pancake meal.
Ransom served on the Clear Lake City Council and was the Clear Lake Rotary Club's Citizen of the Year in 1995. He was the charter president of the Clear Lake Evening Lions Club.
Ransom helped raise money to build the new Clear Lake VFW building. He also was initially involved with planning for a proposed veterans memorial in Clear Lake, although now that he is in a nursing home his involvement is limited to writing an occasional letter to the editor about it.
Three different locations have been proposed for the memorial. Ransom said he feels strongly that it should be located along the Sea Wall because it is a highly visible spot.
Ransom said when he is wearing his VFW T-shirt out in public somewhere, such as at a ball game, people sometimes come up to him and thank him for his service.
He said it is important to honor veterans from his generation while they are alive because soon "they are going to be gone."
Craig Rule of Clear Lake, a friend of Ransom's, said he is "one of the finest men I have ever met."
When others are complaining about something, Ransom will "find a positive way to look at it," he said.
Photograph courtesy of Globe-Gazette
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2016
Cerro Gordo Biographies maintained by Sharon R. Becker.
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Cerro Gordo Biographies maintained by Sharon R. Becker.