WWII veteran reaches out to Journal Record

James Shaffer is shown at age 18 during his service time in the Navy during World War II.

By Kathryn “Chazz” Hirschfeld
Staff writer
HAMILTON — World War II Veteran James Shaffer will turn 98 years old on Oct. 27.
He grew up in Glen Allen in Fayette County, but has many connections to Winfield and the surrounding Marion County areas.
When he was just a boy, he remembers walking the streets of Winfield barefoot.
“We always went to Winfield to trade because Glen Allen was just a small little place,” he said. “I walked those streets barefooted when I was a kid. I didn’t wear my feet out. I still have them.”
He went to school in Glen Allen, starting in first grade and continuing until he ended his education.
His parents were John and Turry (Vaughan) Shaffer, both of Glen Allen. He was their oldest child, and he had three brothers and two sisters. After the attack on Pearl Harbor when America joined the war, Shaffer signed up with the Navy at age 18.
He’d never been out of the local states until he went into the service. Being homesick is one of the memories that stands out to him of his time spent overseas.
He served two years in the Navy as a Seaman First Class.
“I was more or less assigned to Guam just before the war was over. That was my station,” he said. “I still remember some of my buddies, and I still miss them after all these years. I still think of them quite a bit.”
These days, Shaffer, who lives in Indiana, also thinks often of where he grew up.
“I  still remember the old country down there and the cities,” he said. “I would like to go back down there to the old place where I was raised up one day.
“It was hard times in those days--not like it is now. I still haven’t forgotten about it. It’s changed a lot. I’ve changed a lot, too. I haven’t been down there in about 20 years.
“And I still call that home. I don’t know why. I’ve been here (Elkhart, Indiana) much longer than I lived there.”
Shaffer was 25 when he moved his family from Alabama to Indiana seeking new job opportunities. After the war, he worked some in sawmills, which he noted “were about the only thing there was down there.”
A brother-in-law in Indiana convinced him to move north.
“I had to make a living,” he said. “I had to find a job. In the Glen Allen, Fayette and Marion county areas around that time, there wasn’t any work.
“In Indiana, I worked at the Federal Paper Board Company on the printing press until I retired in 1989.
“We made cartons for all kinds of cereals and staples, all kinds of boxes. We printed on every kind of carton you can think of. We made them.”

Family man
Not too long after he came out of the service in 1946, Shaffer began courting a local girl, Mary Nix. The couple were married in 1948.
They had four children: three girls and then a boy. Their children included, from oldest to youngest, Doris, Brenda, Jane and James.
They have seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter.
Shaffer lost his beloved Mary 18 years ago when she passed away in 2006.
But he remains a happy “Pawpaw” to all his grandchildren and his great-grandchild, who all live within a 10-mile radius of him in Indiana.
His daughter, Jane, calls him “Poppy.” She also noted her father was “a little wild child when he was young.” She said when he was a boy in the Glen Allen countryside, he’d stay out in the woods for days at a time.
“He’d get out there, and he just loved it,” she said.
Shaffer later settled down some, but always enjoyed hunting and fishing and being outdoors.
“He just finished mowing his grass yesterday, and he loves his gardens,” Jane said. “He loves anything outside in the woods. We have deer to come up here to the woods behind his house now. But it’s the city, and there’s no hunting, so he can’t shoot them. He actually only recently quit deer hunting.”
Jane also noted her dad was, and continues to be, a wonderful family man.
“He was always a good daddy and a good provider,” she said “He was saved at 47, and he started going to church with mama. They were members of the Riverview General Baptist Church in Elkhart. The Good Lord’s been good to him.”

A big fan of the
Journal Record
Shaffer contacted the newspaper for two reasons. One we’ll explain in the next section, but he also reached out because he said he’s a big fan.
“I want to say hello to any of the other readers who remember me,” he said. “I love the Journal Record. I like reading about the area where I grew up. It brings back a lot of memories.
“I know the names of the younger people. Most of the ones I knew back then have passed on, but I enjoy reading about their relatives, and then I can remember their fathers and mothers from way back.”

veterans from the area to contact him
Regarding local veterans, Shaffer said he didn’t know any nearby servicemen until after the war.
“We were from every direction you can think of,” he said. “But when I got out of the service, there were a lot of guys from around the same area and from Winfield getting out at the same time.
“And I’ve often wondered how many of them are still living. I’d like to be able to trace that. I’d enjoy that.
“I would like any veterans from the country around the Glen Allen area or from Winfield--and from anywhere around those areas--to contact me.”
Shaffer asked veterans or persons with information on WWII veterans to please contact him via his daughter, Jane, at her email address, which is
(Persons without e-mail access may contact the Journal Record at 205-921-3104 and leave their name and number for Mr. Shaffer.)

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