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. King 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.
When war broke out, Jim, along with the other members of Company B, 192 Tank Battalion, fought a holding action on the Island of Luzon against the Japanese. Since the Japanese had air superiority, the Filipino-American forces were under constant strafing. As was the custom in combat, he carried his handgun in the cocked position.
B Company was guarding a beach near Limay, Bataan. 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.
Jim's brother, John, who was taken prisoner in December 22, 1941, did not learn of Jim's death until July 1942, when John came into contact with other members of B Company at Cabanatuan POW Camp.
After the war, the remains of Pvt. James A. Cahill were reburied in Plot D, Row 16, Grave 113, at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.
Jim's younger brother, Joe, had promised his brothers that he would not enlist in the military and take care of their mother. With his mother's permission, he joined the Army Air Corps to avenge Jim's death. On August 30, 1944, Joe died when his plane went down at sea between Iceland and Greenland.