James Marion Logan was born on December 19, 1920 in McNeil, Texas. He enlisted in the Texas National Guard at just fifteen years old in 1936. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 36th Infantry Division. The division was activated for federal service with the United States Army on November 25, 1940 as it became increasingly likely that the United States would have to fight in World War II.
The 36th Division arrived in North Africa for staging and final training on April 13, 1943. Their first action would be the Americans’ contribution to the invasion of mainland Italy – Operation AVALANCHE – scheduled for September 9, 1943.
At dawn on that day, the Fifth United States Army stormed ashore at Salerno. As the 36th’s 142nd Regimental Combat Team got about one-half mile inland from the beach, they faced the first counter-attack by Nazi German soldiers of the 16th Panzer Division. In direct action first against an enemy machine gun, and then against a sniper position, then Sergeant James Logan helped insure that the American fighting man would be on the Italian mainland until victory, and later received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
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Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, 36th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Salerno, Italy, 9 September 1943. Entered service at: Luling, Tex. G.O. No.: 54, 5 July 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict on 9 September 1943 in the vicinity of Salerno, Italy. As a rifleman of an infantry company, Sgt. Logan landed with the first wave of the assault echelon on the beaches of the Gulf of Salerno, and after his company had advanced 800 yards inland and taken positions along the forward bank of an irrigation canal, the enemy began a serious counterattack from positions along a rock wall which ran parallel with the canal about 200 yards further inland. Voluntarily exposing himself to the fire of a machinegun located along the rock wall, which sprayed the ground so close to him that he was splattered with dirt and rock splinters from the impact of the bullets, Sgt. Logan killed the first 3 Germans as they came through a gap in the wall. He then attacked the machinegun. As he dashed across the 200 yards of exposed terrain a withering stream of fire followed his advance. Reaching the wall, he crawled along the base, within easy reach of the enemy crouched along the opposite side, until he reached the gun. Jumping up, he shot the 2 gunners down, hurdled the wall, and seized the gun. Swinging it around, he immediately opened fire on the enemy with the remaining ammunition, raking their flight and inflicting further casualties on them as they fled. After smashing the machinegun over the rocks, Sgt. Logan captured an enemy officer and private who were attempting to sneak away. Later in the morning, Sgt. Logan went after a sniper hidden in a house about 150 yards from the company. Again the intrepid Sgt. ran a gauntlet of fire to reach his objective. Shooting the lock off the door, Sgt. Logan kicked it in and shot the sniper who had just reached the bottom of the stairs. The conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity which characterized Sgt. Logan’s exploits proved a constant inspiration to all the men of his company, and aided materially in insuring the success of the beachhead at Salerno.
Logan later received the second-highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, in 1944. Unfortunately, the citation for that decoration is not available. He attained the rank of Technical Sergeant before being discharged from the Army in March 1945 and the Texas National Guard two months later.
The 36th Infantry Division is still an Army National Guard formation today. Its soldiers have been activated for federal service multiple times since September 11, 2001 and have served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The division is comprised of National Guardsmen from Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.
James M. Logan passed away on October 9, 1999. He rests in peace at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.