Meridian man honored for World War II service
VETERAN HONORED -Veteran James Jay of Meridian, right, talks with U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering on Thursday about his experience fighting in World War II. Pickering presented Jay with the Bronze Star and other honors for his service in Europe. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Aug. 23, 2002
A World War II veteran from Meridian wept Thursday evening when his congressman recognized him for serving his country.
James Jay, 80, received the Bronze Star and several other honors for his service in Europe. U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering presented the awards at his downtown office.
Besides the Bronze Star, Pickering also gave Jay a medal recognizing his service in Europe. Jay also got a victory medal, an Army good conduct medal, an American campaign medal and a lapel pin.
Jay, a retired farmer and logger, embraced family members. Jay said that he served in Europe for 19 months, dating back to 1943.
Jay and Pickering conversed for a time Thursday evening. Jay, who spoke in a low voice, told the congressman about his days serving the United States in Europe.
Pickering said that he was proud "to give a long-deserved and long-overdue honor to a great man and veteran and father who served in World War II but did not get the medals that he deserved."
One of Jay's sons, Scott, a 44-year-old lumber wholesaler who watched his father receive the awards, said afterward that his father, like other veterans, didn't talk openly about the war.
Scott said that a family member persuaded Jay to meet with Pickering's Meridian staff, ask about veterans benefits and recover military medals that either had been forgotten or lost over the years.
Asked about his father receiving the honors, Scott said, "Oh, I'm proud, proud."
Also in attendance was Jay's brother, Grady, and his other son, Kent, who serves in the Mississippi Air National Guard. His daughter, Tracy, a nurse, was unable to attend, but five grandchildren and a great grandchild were among those who witnessed the ceremony.