James R. Fields
4th Division
USS West Virginia

FIELDS, James R. "Shep"  Gunner's Mate 3rd Class (GM3), 4th Division.

Joined the Navy on Dec. 18, 1941, and first served aboard the heavy cruiser USS Astoria (CA-34) until she was sunk at Savo Island on Aug. 9, 1942. He was almost immediately assigned to the USS West Virginia (Sept. 1942) where he served until Sept. 1945.  He remembers the kamikaze attack quite well, since he was detailed to shove the thing off into the water!

He admired Commander G.J. King and Captain H. V. Wiley very much.  Captain Wiley did not have a loud voice, but he was an inspiring speaker and exhorted the crew to have courage and be willing to fight.  In fact, he said, if anyone didn't want to fight the Japanese, they should leave the ship!  

Mr. Fields recalls that King was promoted to captain and Wiley to admiral.    

Mr. Fields still has his souvenir book entitled USS West Virginia Crosses the Equator Again:  October 1944.  On page 4 of that book there are the following paragraphs about Captain Wiley and Commander King, purportedly written by Neptunus Rex:

"Captain Wiley, it is a great pleasure to see you once more.  When last we met you were commanding the destroyer squadron of the Asiatic Fleet, and I recall with pride the way you and your trusty Shellbacks gave the Japs hell at Makassar Straits, off Bali, and in the Java Sea.  May your successes follow you on the USS WEST VIRGINIA."   Neptunus Rex 

"Commander King, on your first visit to my domain you were aboard the USS NEW MEXICO, when the fleet cruised to Australia in 1925.  Well do I remember your battle against insurmountable odds at Bataan in 1942.  Gratified I am that I was there to guide the submarine out when you made your escape at the last possible moment, for now I see you are bringing back a worthy crew to exterminate those dastard Japs from the Royal Domain."   Neptunus Rex

Submitted by Pamela Fields Royce

Also see Fields' comments on James A. Prewitt


James Robert "Shep" Fields passed away on March 22, 2003, after fighting a good fight with all his will and with the intention of return to home and family.  A true battleship sailor to the end.

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