Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that Ireland’s Own, a magazine published weekly in Wexford, Ireland, has profiled James Hennessey of Bayonne in its October 4 issue. In a story by Con McGrath, the magazine presents Hennessey, 87, as an example of the role the Irish played in World War II. The veteran’s father, Patrick Hennessey, was an Irish immigrant from County Westmeath. Mayor Smith said, “Everyone in Bayonne should be proud that a publication in Ireland has written about Jim Hennessey’s role in the Second World War. His bravery during and after the Battle of the Bulge deserves recognition in both the United States and Ireland. Bayonne residents should be proud that Jim’s story has gained new attention in Europe.”
James Hennessey, now a retired letter carrier, was drafted into the U.S. Army three months before his scheduled graduation from Bayonne High School in 1944. He trained at Camp Croft in Spartanburg, South Carolina. At Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he was assigned to Company E, of the 345th Regiment, in the 87th Infantry Division, under the command of General George S. Patton.
The Bayonne resident’s most memorable Army experiences occurred during the Battle of the Bulge, which lasted from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945. The battle was Hitler’s last major attempt to split the Allied advance against Germany in Western Europe. During the fighting, Hennessey witnessed the death of his first
lieutenant a few feet in front of him. On December 31, 1944, a shell landed between Hennessey and one of his colleagues. Fortunately, it was a dud.
After their eventual success in the Battle of the Bulge, Allied forces continued moving into Germany itself. Ireland’s Own reports that Hennessey was wounded in the neck by a sniper near Neuenstein, Germany, on February 26, 1945. Pieces of steel were embedded in his neck near the skull. Some of that metal is still inside him. Hennessey recuperated successfully, and was discharged from the Army on December 15, 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Medal, and a Presidential Citation. Mayor Smith concluded, “It is an honor to be from Bayonne, which has produced so many highly decorated World War II veterans such as Jim Hennessey, Henry Sanchez, Tony Cestari, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients Nicholas Oresko and Stephen Gregg, and numerous other heroes. We owe our freedom to them.”
Ireland’s Own is published by Independent News and Media. It features traditional stories, puzzles, recipes, and other family-oriented features.
Copies of the Ireland’s Own article about James Hennessey will be available this the week of October 21 on the shelf of the information booth window in the City Hall lobby.