Jim served on the USS Helena before it was torpedoed and sunk. He and some of his crew mates were able to hang on to a life raft (which was “turtled” so they couldn’t access the food or water underneath). After 3 days, they floated to Vella Lavalla (Solomon Islands) and had to walk over the coral (barefooted) to get to the beach. Although the island was occupied by the Japanese, they were rescued and hidden by a missionary who kept them safe until the Americans could rescue them. For more information, please go to: http://www.usshelena.org/layton.html.
Jim told us he once got talked into getting a ride off the Helena’s ship launched catapult scout observation craft “SOC”. He threatened the pilot that if he did any maneuvers upside down he’d never be allowed into sick bay even if he was on his death bed… That pilot never went upside down!
Jim, it was an honor and privilege to meet and fly you today. Thank you so much for your service!