James M. Kennedy began his service in the United States Army in April 1943. Twenty years old and married, with a newborn daughter, he was initially assigned to the Boston Port Battalion, but joined the 101st Airborne in October 1943. Mr. Kennedy was injured during a jump into German-held territory during D-Day preparations and was reassigned to the 94th Infantry Division. There, he was one of “Patton’s Golden Nuggets,” serving as a forward scout and demolition
expert for the remainder of WWII.
Mr. Kennedy fought 195 consecutive days of combat, including the Battle of the Bulge. He was personally responsible for destroying dozens of German pillboxes and “dragon’s teeth” on the Siegfried Line, allowing General Patton’s tanks to break through and bring the war in Europe to an end. He served in the occupational forces until he returned to the U.S. as a Private First Class on his 23rd birthday, January 9, 1946.
Private Kennedy was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, European-American Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Medal, Marksman Medal, and the Army of Occupation Ribbon. In 2001, the U.S. and Czech Republic each awarded him a “Certificate of Recognition for Service During the Cold War,” and in 2002, the French awarded him “Certificate of Recognition for the Liberation of France.”
On November 9, 2012, Private Kennedy was appointed as a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.
James M. Kennedy served his country with bravery, dignity and honor, but is a humble man who says he is just one of many who served.