U.S. Army Major General Nathaniel James was truly an outstanding leader and achiever. He was the pride of the 369th Regiment and a hero to his entire family.
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The military was a large part of General James’ life. He joined the 369th Regiment of the NY National Guard at age 17 and after serving two years of active duty he returned to the 369th and passionately pursued his military career. His major break came when he was given the opportunity to attend the Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Ft. Sill, OK. His graduation from OCS—as the only African-American in a class of 47—catapulted him to the officer’s rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Back home in New York James held a number of posts between the 42nd Division command and the 369th. His excellence and diligence in every assignment propelled him up through the ranks to 1st Lieutenant, Captain, Major, and Lt. Colonel. This was his proudest step because it enabled him to become Commander of his beloved 369th Regiment, which had been dubbed the “Harlem Hellfighters” for their ferocious and courageous combat in World War I. But he didn’t stop there; he moved up to Colonel, Troop Command, in the 42nd Division then Brigadier General and Major General and Commanding General of the NY Army National Guard—an unprecedented level of achievement. Along the way he managed to earn a few decorations and awards including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the New York Humanitarian Service Medal. His military career spanned forty three years by the time he retired in 1995. As Commander of the 369th, General James oversaw the establishment of a monument in Sechault, France honoring the legendary 369th as well as the establishment of a replica of the monument on 5th Avenue in front of the Armory. In retirement he continued to pursue his love of history and of the 369th by heading up and raising funds for the 369th Historical Society, the caretaker of the many artifacts and pictures that document the unit’s trials, accomplishments, and heroics.
General James leaves to cherish his memories beloved wife Mary; four children:daughter Roslyn, sons Nathaniel, Jr.,Darryl, and Eric grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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