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Mission Valley WWII veteran shares meaning of Memorial Day

Posted at 8:58 AM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 10:58:48-04

POLSON – More than 116,000 — that’s the number of American soldiers who died battling in WWI.

And in World War II around 417,000 men and women lost their lives protecting our country and protecting our freedoms.

MTN News spoke with a 93-year-old WWII veteran who continues to share the stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It would have taken days – possibly even weeks – to really appreciate the entire story of Jim Sivelle.

It started for Jim when he was 18. He was just out of high school went right into the US Navy, “it made me grow up real quick – as it did most of the guys out there.”

It was 1943 and Jim boarded the USS Detroit along with 449 other personnel. Jim says he went from a California boy to a man.

WWII Veteran Jim Sivelle
Jim Sivelle continues to share the stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. (MTN News photo)

“We did Hiroshima on the 5th of February 45’ – Okinawa 1st of April 45’ – we were the first ship to go into Tokyo Harbor on Augusts 28th for the surrender to be signed on September 2nd,” the Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class.

For many of us – just dates we read about from home! For Jim, a reality he and thousands of other veterans lived through.

Whether it was under fire from Japanese Kamikaze’s or just simply homesick – Jim says his faith helped him through those tough times.

“We were blessed from the very beginning. That was three years, eight months and 23 days. And our ship was in it from the beginning to the end.”

And it’s not just Jim’s story, it’s the thousands of men and women whose memory we honor Memorial Day – a reason

Out of the 450 personnel on board the USS Detroit with Jim, he is just one of only two left living to tell these stories.

The USS Detroit sailed into Tokyo Bay on Sept. 1, 1945, and became one of only two ships be present for both the Pearl Harbor attack and the Japanese surrender four years later.