Pvt. James A. Cahill was born in June 8, 1919, in
Nebraska to John T. Cahill and Teresa
Tighe-Cahill. He was the second oldest of
the couple's three sons. His father passed away
in 1920. He lived with his mother's parents and
his younger brother at 2766 Webster Street in Omaha,
Jim's mother moved the family to Chicago and resided at 4822 North Kenmore Avenue. It is known that he graduated high school. He later lived at 825 South Scoville Avenue in Oak Park, Illinois, and worked as a clerk. He enlisted in the Illinois National Guard with his brother Pvt. John P. Cahill.
In November, 1940, Jim went with the 33rd Tank Company from Maywood, Illinois, when the company was called to federal duty. He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then at Camp Polk in Louisiana.
In the late summer of 1941, Jim took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain behind at Camp Polk. None of the members of the battalion had any idea why they were there. On the side of a hill, the members learned they were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM. Within hours, many men had figured out they were being sent to the Philippine Islands.
From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes. Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott. They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam. When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water. The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay. After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked. Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King, who welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers. Upon arrival in the Philippines, Jim, and the other members of the battalion, was issued an .45 caliber handguns. They were told to keep the guns with them at all times.
On December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. Two crew members had to be with their tank at all times. The morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. They had received word of the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. As they sat in their tanks and half-tracks they watched as American planes filled the sky. At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north. When bombs began exploding on the runways, they knew the planes were Japanese.
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the night of January 6th/7th, the 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross a bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
As was the custom in
combat, he carried his handgun in the cocked
position. According to the other members
of his company, Jim and other members of the
company were strafed by a Japanese
plane. A bomb exploded near Jim and other
soldiers. Trying to avoid the bombs and
machine gun fire, they all dove into a
foxhole. When he landed, Jim's handgun
discharged and wounded him in the
abdomen. He was taken to an American
Military Hospital where he died from this wound
on Thursday, January 15, 1942.