When James Albert Twiss was drafted, it was for the duration. The Columbiana County native and Diebold retiree served from March 1941 to November 1945.
When James Albert Twiss was drafted, it was for the duration.
Twiss, a graduate of Salineville High School, was living in Columbiana County then, and when he was drafted in March 1941 — long before Pearl Harbor — he was working for Diebold in Canton.
He wasn’t discharged until the war was over.
Preparing for a war that seemed inevitable was the task at hand when he was assigned to the Army’s Signal Corps and was sent to Texas for training.
They didn’t have enough uniforms for all the draftees, Twiss has told relatives through the years. He wore one shirt for six months. While on maneuvers, the soldiers sometimes used trucks with signs that said “tank” on the side, and “fought” with wooden guns.
While in radio school in Washington, D.C., he used real equipment. He also was sent to Orlando, Fla. Twiss and his unit, attached to the 13th Air Force, went overseas in September of 1942.
The Signal Corps, which kept the radio equipment in operating condition, was stationed in several spots in the Pacific Theater, including the Philippines, Guadalcanal, Morotai, and the Spice Islands.
Heat reached well over 100 degrees on some islands, and the enemy continually strafed many of his positions.
“We were strafed every night for a month on Morotai in 1945,” Twiss recalled. “I was lucky none of the bullets hit me.”
The unit became close. He was a master sergeant but was offered a commission, noted his sister-in-law, Janae Marshall. He turned it down, “not wanting to leave his buddies,” Marshall said.
There were enjoyable times amid the fighting. When Jack Paar, who credited Canton with being his hometown, brought shows to entertain the troops, Twiss would be in charge of operating his sound equipment.
“I remember he used to come to our outfit whenever he got a new show and wanted to try it out because we were one of the oldest units,” said Twiss. “He came several times.”
When the war ended, Twiss was stationed on Morotai. His unit was transferred to the Philippines. Twiss was shipped home in November of 1945.
Twiss returned to work at Diebold, from which he retired in 1981. He had worked in electrical assembly.
In January of 1946, Twiss married Ruth Ann Marshall. They lived in Nimishillen Township and raised two children, J. Albert Twiss Jr. and Thomas Twiss.
Since his wife’s passing in 2009, Twiss continues to live in the same house near Louisville, which they shared for 63 years.