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Sgt James M. Logan, U.S. Army (1936-1945)

Texas native James M. Logan was the embodiment of the U.S. military’s greatest tactical weapon: its Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. Every branch has some kind of saying about NCOs. They’re the backbone of the Air Force, they lead the way in the Army, and in the Marine Corps, they wear special swords. 

If you want to see how poorly an armed force without NCOs performs in combat, just look at how the Russians are doing in Ukraine.

The Heroic Journey of Sgt. James M. Logan

Sgt. James M. Logan was one of the first American troops to hit the beaches of Salerno on Sept. 9, 1943 and almost immediately, he and his fellow soldiers found themselves under a heavy German assault. Logan, unlike many of the men with him on the beaches that day, wasn’t a conscript and would show the Nazis and Fascist defenders what it means to be a professional soldier.

Logan grew up in Luling, Texas during the Great Depression. Like a lot of Americans at the time, he had to help the family make ends meet. By age 15, he was an unskilled laborer, making $15.00 a week. In 1936, he joined the Texas National Guard to help boost his income. He was only 15 years old. 

With World War II looming over the country, many National Guardsmen were mobilized for active duty service, and Logan was sent to the Fifth Army’s 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. They trained in Florida and in the U.S. Army’s 1942 Carolina Maneuvers before shipping off to the Mediterranean, where the Americans were cutting their teeth against German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

Sgt. Logan and the 36th (Texas) arrived in North Africa in April 1943 but were held in reserve for the remainder of the North African Campaign. As the fighting there wound down and the Allies moved on to invade Sicily, the 36th was held in reserve, training in Algeria for the next seaborne invasion: mainland Italy. 

A lot happened between the fall of the Axis in North Africa in May and the invasion of Italy in September 1942. The Allied invasion of Sicily led to the fall of the Fascist government and Italian capitulation. Germans then disarmed Italian forces and took over its defensive positions. The Salerno invaders would be facing stiff resistance if they couldn’t achieve surprise.  


As the U.S. 36th (Texas) Infantry Division headed to the shores of Salerno at 3:30 in the morning, a voice came over a loudspeaker in English: “Come on in and give up. We have you covered.” The Germans were ready for the invasion and knew the Americans were landing. The U.S. Army attacked anyway. 
Logan landed with the lead battalions from 141st and 142nd Infantry Regiments at Paestum, their landing craft coming under heavy artillery fire. He was one of the first soldiers to land on the beaches in the first wave. He led Company I 800 meters inland, where they came to a stop along a canal. German machine guns opened up on them in a blaze of tracers and bullets, positioned behind a wall some 200 yards away. With his men pinned down, he took action.

Sgt. Logan ran through the lead hailstorm to the opposite side of the wall, killing three enemy soldiers as they tried to attack. When he reached the wall, he silenced the two machine guns, killing their gunners. As the Germans began to retreat from the area, he took over their machine gun, and turned it around on them as they ran – he also captured an officer and a soldier who didn’t escape in time. 

Later that morning, his company again came under fire. This time, it was coming from a sniper in a house 150 yards away. Instead of taking cover, he made a mad dash for the house while under enemy fire. He shot the lock off the door and, as he kicked it in, killed the enemy sniper descending the staircase.

Legacy of Courage: Sgt. James M. Logan’s Medal of Honor Story

Logan would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Salerno, and would go on to receive another Medal of Honor nomination for actions at Velletri the following year. Since the Army no longer awarded two Medals of Honor to one individual, he received the Distinguished Service Cross.

Sgt. James M. Logan would survive the war, also receiving a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and (after it was created in 1997), the Texas Legislature Medal of Honor. He died at age 78 in 1999 and was laid to rest in Austin, Texas.

Read About Other Profiles in Courage

If you enjoyed learning about James M. Logan, we invite you to read about other profiles in courage on our blog. You will also find military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog.  If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: 141st and 142nd Infantry Regiments at Paestum, Battle of Salerno, Bronze Star, Fifth Army's 141st Infantry Regiment, Marine Corps, Purple Heart, Texas National Guard, World War II


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