Woodbury County

1st Sgt. James "Joe" Cunningham

Obituary Link



James Joseph Cunningham known as Joe was born 19 April 1916, in Mapleton, Monona County, Iowa, to James and Mary (McGuire) Cunningham. Siblings are Marcella, Tom, Catherine, Gilda, Maurice, Anna and Frank. Joe attended school in Anthon and graduated there in 1935.

Joe writes “I was activated into the United State Army on 10 July 1941. My services took me to many places which started at Fort Crooke, Nebraska, then on to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to Fort Clayborne, Louisiana...then the real travel began. I traveled by boat to South Africa on to India through the Arabian Sea and on through the Euphrates and Tigris River which joins to create a place called the Shatt Al-Arab.. ‘River of the Arabs’ and ending in Iraq. While in Iraq, I worked as an engineer and ran a railroad for three years. I was a private in the 711th Battalion. While in Iraq, I traveled to Baghdad to hire help for the railroad. I had 173 men working for me. They were fed rations daily and were paid $1.00 per day and they were lucky if they got that. During my time here, I remember vividly a man called Mickey Delaney, ‘We called him Sambo’, he was guard and always begging the guys for cigarettes. Well one night while he was on guard duty I said, ‘Now Sambo those boxes don’t say cigarettes, they say dynamite.’ That was the last I saw of Sambo except for his shoes. Those are the things you never forget. the good men that were lost.

“During my time overseas I never forgot my loved ones at home since my brothers Tom, Frank and Maurice and a sister, Catherine, were also in the military, I was sure to try and write to keep in touch with my brothers and sister as well as my parents and sisters at home. I remember my sister, Gilda, wrote to me quite a bit and it was quite nice to receive the news from home.

While I was on leave in Anthon, I had to go back to be discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Upon discharge I traveled to Chicago and then ended in Cherokee where I received a ride home from a man whose name was Dicks. It was like no one even knew a guy had been gone.

“Upon returning home I worked for the Illinois Central Railroad as a bridge and building foreman until my retirement from the railroad. The railroad provided me with a good life for myself and my family. I married Carol Ashmore in LeMars, on 30 April, 1949. From this union came two children, our son, James, and a daughter, Nancy. Although our children are born and raised with families of their own, we have made Correctionville our home for 53 years and counting.

My son, James, married Lana and bless us with two wonderful grandsons....James and John. James has made us great grand-parents of two beautiful little girls, Kaitlyn and Allison. What a Joy.

“My daughter, Nancy, married Butch Alioth. They also blessed us with two grandsons, Dennis and David. David has also added to the list of great grandchildren with a little great grandson name Gage. What a treat.”

The Cunningham Brothers, Joe, Frank, Maurice and Tom.

Submitted by Edna Cunningham, a sister-in-law.