Hesson, James, S1c

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Last Rank
Seaman 1st Class
Last Primary NEC
S1c-0000-Seaman 1st Class
Last Rating/NEC Group
Seaman First Class
Primary Unit
1942-1945, USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
Service Years
1942 - 1945
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Iwo Jima
Order of the Horned Shellback
Panama Canal
Plank Owner
Seaman 1st Class

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

116 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Joe Hesson-Family to remember Hesson, James (Hess), S1c.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
801 Burgess St
Phila Pa

Date of Passing
Feb 26, 2009
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity

JAMES E. age 88 of Somerton PA. on Feb. 26, 2009. WWII Navy Veteran. Beloved husband of Catherine (nee McConville). Devoted father of Kathy Fitzgerald, Jim and Joe Hesson. Also survived by his 6 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing Mon. 9:30-11 A.M. at St. Christopher's Church Proctor Rd. Somerton PA. Funeral Mass 11 A.M. Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

James Edward Hesson... loving son, loyal friend, devoted husband & father, doting grand & great-grandfather.Born into the generation that has been deemed the greatest, Dad, like so many others of that era, was toughened by the hard times of the Great Depression that gave him a strength & courage that would last his lifetime. When war came, he answered the call to defend his country, proudly serving aboard the battleship USS Massachusetts, where he saw action at Casablanca & in the South Pacific. He used to tell me his war stories and about the good times he had. I think some of them actually turned up on episodes of McHale's Navy.
He & Mom, his high school sweetheart, got married while he was on a 2 week leave & when peacetime came, they began their family. Kathy, Jimmy & Joey, as we were always known, became his world & he worked hard like any good husband & father to support his little family. He wanted us to have the opportunities he hadn't had & he made sacrifices to ensure we'd have a better start in life than he did, that we would want for nothing. There were always plenty of gifts under the Christmas tree, our Easter baskets full of candy, nice clothes on our back and a roof over our head. And always, lots of love.
His family was most dear to him. He taught by example, making sure we knew right from wrong & guiding us to be good people & always doing our best. He encouraged us to learn from his mistakes, before we made our own. He had his sayings and phrases that sometimes puzzled us. When we'd catch him staring lovingly at us, & ask him what he was looking at, He'd reply, "Doesn't the king look at the queen ?" Or ask him where he was going or where something was that we had mislaid, it was always, " up in back of the clock ". Or " close that door, we're not heating Burgess St. " Altho the last few years when he was turning the thermostat up to 90, I think he was trying to heat all Somerton.
His little family began to grow in the 70's with the addition of grandchildren. Pop,as they called him, was a typical proud grandfather, showering them with love & affection, and most importantly, his time. Time at the shore, ball games, fishing, he did it all with them. Around the same time, he became passionate about golf. Weekends spent on the course with buddies, his sons & grandsons & their friends. Trips to Florida with Mom & their lifelong friends , to soak up the sun and chase the little white ball.
Dad loved to have fun, to laugh hard, to tell or hear a great joke...to be around people, sing old Irish songs & cut a mean rug. He knew how to have a good time and make others around him have a good time.
As the years added up, so did the great-grandchildren who he adored. You could see his face light up whenever he visited with them. He loved family get-togethers. The simple things made him happiest, a car ride to see the fall colors, sunsets down the shore, the warmth of the sun on his tired bones. But above all, he enjoyed just watching & being with the family that he cherished.
Dad was a man's man, he called a spade a spade & didn't suffer fools gladly. He never backed down from any challenge or obstacle that ever confronted him. He faced the end of his days with courage. The doctors told us that his heart was weak & giving out, but Dad was from the old school, part of that greatest generation, and he fought the fight to try to stay, to maybe have a little more time with us. But he had just given too much of his heart away to us to continue. He told us he was happy, he had had a good life & for us to do the same & to take care of one another, his family that he loved.
In Navy parlance, Dad stood the watch, ready at his post to protect us, for over 60 years. Altho he's left, we know he's still standing that watch, for eternity now. Again, as they say in the Navy after a successful campaign, Well done, Dad. We love you. And til we meet once more, here's wishing you a happy voyage home.
Other Comments:
BB-59: dp. 35,000; l. 680'10"; b. 108'2"; dr. 29'3"; s. 27 k.; cpl. 1793; a. 9 16", 20 5", 24 40mm., 35 20mm., cl. South Dakota)


Massachusetts (BB-59) was laid down 20 July 1939 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 23 September 1941; sponsored by Mrs. Charles Francis Adams; and commissioned 12 May 1942 at Boston, Capt. Francis E. M. Whiting in command.


After shakedown, Massachusetts departed Casco Bay, Maine, 24 October 1942 and 4 days later made rendezvous with the Western Naval Task Force for the invasion of North Africa, serving as flagship for Adm. H. Kent Hewitt. While steaming off Casablanca 8 November, she came under fire from French battleship Jean Bart's 15-inch guns. She returned fire at 0740, firing the first 16-inch shells fired by the U.S. against the European Axis Powers. Within a few minutes she silenced Jean Bart's main battery; then she turned her guns on French destroyers which had joined the attack, sinking two of them. She also shelled shore batteries and blew up an ammunition dump. After a cease-fire had been arranged with the French, she headed for the United States 12 November and prepared for Pacific duty.


Massachusetts arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, 4 March 1943. For the next months, she operated in the South Pacific, protecting convoy lanes and supporting operations in the Solomons. Between 19 November and 21 November, she sailed with a carrier group striking Makin, Tarawa, and Abemama in the Gilberts; on 8 December she shelled Japanese positions on Nauru; and on 29 January 1944, she guarded carriers striking Tarawa in the Gilberts.


The Navy now drove steadily across the Pacific. On 30 January Massachusetts bombarded Kwajalein, and she covered the landings there 1 February. With a carrier group, she struck against the Japanese stronghold at Truk 17 February. That raid not only inflicted heavy damage on Japanese aircraft and naval forces but also proved to be a stunning blow to enemy morale. On 21 to 22 February, Massachusetts helped fight off a heavy air attack on her task group while it made raids on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. She took part in the attack on the Carolines in late March and participated in the invasion at Hollandia 22 April which landed 60,000 troops on the island. Retiring from Hollandia, her task force staged another attack on Truk.


Massachusetts shelled Ponape Island 1 May, her last mission before sailing to Puget Sound to overhaul and reline her gun barrels, now well-worn. On 1 August she left Pearl Harbor to resume operations in the Pacific war zone. She departed the Marshall Islands 6 October, sailing to support the landings in Leyte Gulf. In an effort to block Japanese air attacks in the Leyte conflict, she participated in a fleet strike against Okinawa 10 October. Between 12 and 14 October, she protected forces hitting Formosa. While part of TG 38.3 she took part in the Battle for Leyte Gulf 22 to 27 October, during which planes from her group sank four Japanese carriers off Cape Engano.


Stopping briefly at Ulithi, Massachusetts returned to the Philippines as part of a task force which struck Manila 14 December while supporting the invasion of Mindoro. Massachusetts sailed into a howling typhoon 17 December, with winds estimated at 120 knots. Three destroyers sank at the height of the typhoon's fury. Between 30 December and 23 January 1945, she sailed as part of TF 38, which struck Formosa and supported the landing at Lingayen. During that time she turned into the South China Sea, her task force destroying shipping from Saigon to Hong Kong, concluding operations with airstrikes on Formosa and Okinawa.


From 10 February to 3 March, with the 5th Fleet, Massachusetts guarded carriers during raids on Honshu. Her group also struck Iwo Jima by air for the invasion of that island. On 17 March, the carriers launched strikes against Kyushu while Massachusetts fired in repelling enemy attacks, splashing several planes. Seven days later she bombarded Okinawa. She spent most of April fighting off air attacks, while engaged in the operations at Okinawa, returning to the area in June, when she passed through the eye of a typhoon with 100-knot winds 5 June. She bombarded Minami Daito Jima in the Ryukyus 10 June.


Massachusetts sailed 1 July from Leyte Gulf to join the 3d Fleet's final offensive against Japan. After guarding carriers launching strikes against Tokyo, she shelled Kamaishi, Honshu, 14 July, thus hitting Japan's second largest iron and steel center. Two weeks later she bombarded the industrial complex at Hamamatsu, returning to blast Kamaishi 9 August. It was here that Massachusetts fired what was probably the last 16-inch shell fired in combat in World War II.


Victory won, the fighting battleship sailed for Puget Sound and overhaul 1 September. She left there 28 January 1946 for operations off the California coast, until leaving San Francisco for Hampton Roads, arriving 22 April. She decommissioned 27 March 1947 to enter the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk and was struck from the Naval Register 1 June 1962.


"Big Mamie", as she was affectionately known, was saved from the scrap pile when she was transferred to the Massachusetts Memorial Committee 8 June 1965. She was enshrined at Fall River, Mass., 14 August 1965, as the Bay State's memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II.


Massachusetts received 11 battle stars for World War II service.


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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1942, Recruit Training (Newport, RI), 63
 Duty Stations
USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
  1942-1945, USS Massachusetts (BB-59)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1943 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Naval attack of Truk (Operation Hailstone)
  1942-1942 Algeria-French Morocco Campaign (1942)/Operation Torch
  1943-1943 Gilbert Islands Operation/Battle of Tarawa
  1944-1944 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)
  1944-1944 Marshall Islands Operation (1944)/Battle of Kwajalein Atoll (Operation Flintlock)
  1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944)/Battle of Leyte Gulf
  1944-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Luzon Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Okinawa Gunto Operation
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Surrender of Japan, End of WWII
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