Remembering a WWII Veteran from My Family Tree

My great uncle James Kelton January died in the Pacific theater of World War II.

I discovered this by accident while doing family history work, which I love.  Modern technology has made it easy (and addicting) to find and trace your relatives. While my family history work has slowed down because of my academic research agenda, I look forward to getting back into it once I graduate.

Today I want to tell you what I know about my great uncle James K. January. I did not know him. I did not know his brother Rufus Morgan January, my great grandfather. I never heard him talked about while growing up, as the January family tree had been somewhat of a mystery until I began doing extensive research on it a few years ago. Here’s what I found.

He was born in Canton, Van Zandt County, Texas, on June 6, 1919.

He lived there with his parents, C. Derous January and Melvina Jane “Mollie” Paschal, until 1940, where he appears in the census. They were Protestants, which now seems obvious since I traced the Januarys back to the French Huguenots.

He enlisted with the U.S. Navy in November of 1940. He boarded his first navy vessel on January 28, 1941. He was a Ship’s Clerk 3rd Class. He never married, as far as I know.

He died on November 30, 1942, off the coast of Guadalcanal (now known as the Solomon Islands) in the Pacific Ocean. He was killed in the Battle of Guadalcanal, which you can read all about on Wikipedia.

He is buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

james k january cemetery


I’m grateful to him, and my great great grandparents. It must have been hard to lose a son, especially one so young. I’m proud to know that a World War II veteran is part of my family tree.