SILVER LAKE — James Leon Frieden, Silver Lake, was chosen as the May Veteran of the Month and honored at the Kosciusko County commissioner meeting Tuesday, May 2.
Frieden was born Sept. 18, 1925 in a small farmhouse in Wabash County to Henry and Anna Frieden.
After graduating from Chester High School, North Manchester, in 1943, he joined the Navy. Frieden was initially assigned the position of radioman. Friedman reached the rank of Radioman 2nd Class Petty Officer during his service in the United States Navy during WWII.
During his time in the service, Frieden was involved in two major battles: the invasion of Iwo Jima and the invasion of Okinawa. The Battle of Iwo Jima was fought between the Japanese Army and the United States Marine Corps. The battle started on Feb. 19, 1945 and lasted until March 26, 1945. This was the first battle of the war fought on the Japanese “home islands” and the fighting was very fierce.
Frieden’s combat service was in the Pacific theater aboard the USS Lowndes APA-154. In warfare, a theater is an area where important military events occur or are progressing. A theater can include air space, land and sea area that is or could potentially become involved in war operations.
Frieden relates a moment of humor during his time in the service. He had to have his appendix taken out while on the ship. The surgeon gave him a local spinal tap so that he would still have the use of his arms if the ship became disabled. At the same time, he was told by a fellow radioman that a Japanese submarine had sunk a freighter three hours ahead of their set course.
“I was glad I had the use of my arms to swim if needed,” Frieden said.
After the victory of the South Pacific theater, his ship carried occupational troops into Japan and carried cargo to the Philippines. Frieden served in the military until May 23,1946.
He married Margaret Shenefield on Dec. 15, 1946. The couple had six children: Nancy, Joyce, Barbara Jo, John, Jeffrey and Von.
According to Frieden’s son, Von, one of Frieden’s Navy officers was a stunt double for the Australian-born actor, Errol Flynn.
Von, who served in Afghanistan with the Army, states he joined the Army due to growing up listening to his father’s Navy stories. Von stated that several years ago Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne, took Frieden on a flight to Washington D.C., adding that Frieden “loved it.” Per information shown on the Honor Flight website, veterans of WWII, the Korean War or Vietnam War are eligible to participate for a free trip to Washington D.C. to see the memorials built to honor the sacrifices they made. Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing veterans with honor and closure.
Frieden was employed by Lewis and Lewis, Wabash, until he went to work for Strauss Elevator Company, Inc., North Manchester, in 1954.
He later became the manager of the Civil Lake Elevator for Strauss in 1960 where he worked until 1990 for the Strauss family. At that time he “retired” from his full-time job but worked part-time for Zolman Farms, Warsaw, from 1990 until 2006. He worked for Hoffman Farms, Columbia City, until 2010, fully retiring at the age of 82.
In 1976 he helped form the Silver Lake EMS and was an EMT for several years. He was also a volunteer fireman in Silver Lake, Indiana.
Frieden still lives at home, but his wife, Margaret, is in a nursing home. He visits her several times each week.
They have five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Frieden is a member of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, North Manchester. He is a lifetime member of the American Legion of North Manchester and a lifetime member of the VFW in Warsaw.