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Private First Class James Berry Dillard

U. S. Army
Ser. # 38252855

February 26, 1922 - January 8, 1945

Gold Star Mother Lillie Jane Taylor Dillard


33rd Infantry Division Patch courtesy of

Private First Class James Berry Dillard

Private First Class James Berry Dillard JB, U.S. Army, [February 26, 1922 - January 8, 1945] was born to Mark Dillard [July 9, 1870 - March 3, 1960] and Lillie Jane (Taylor) Dillard [July 23, 1882 - May 24, 1961] at Louise, Wharton County, Texas.  His parents were married on October 11, 1897at Cameron, Texas.  JB was the 10th of 11 children born to Mark and Lillie Jane and attended both grade and high school in Louise; while in high school he was a member of the Future Farmers of America.  He was a red-headed bashful boy, and spent his time in the cotton fields helping his mother and father on the farm. The family attended church at the Louise 1st Baptist Church, then after they moved to Palacios, Texas in 1929 they transferred their membership to the 1st Baptist Church of Palacios.

On October 6, 1942 JB signed-up to join the Army in Bay City, took his physical at Houston and attended boot camp in Washington, State.  After boot camp he was assigned to Company G, 136th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Division.  Neither after completing his physical in Houston, or at any other time before he departed overseas was JB able to return home on leave to visit and say good-bye to his family.

The 33rd Division arrived in Hawaii on July 12, 1943.  While guarding installations,  it received training in jungle warfare.  On May 11, 1944, the Division arrived in New Guinea where it received additional training.  Elements of the 33rd arrived at Morotai Island, an island located in the Halmahera group of eastern Indonesias Maluku Islands on December 18, 1944.  Landings were made on the west coast of the island, on December 22, without opposition and defensive perimeters were established; aggressive patrols encountered scattered resistance. By capturing Morotai Island, Allied Forces cutoff 40,000 Japanese soldiers based on nearby Halmahera Island from relief from the Philippines.

Morotai Island was a crucial tactical position for the Allied Air Forces in World War II.  Along the southern coast of the island, just north of the Gila Peninsula, was a Japanese air strip which was to be utilized as an allied base of preparation for the upcoming battle of the Philippines.  A counterattack for possession of this air strip by the Japanese forced the 136th Infantry to defend the region of Gila Peninsula.  It was during this defense that PFC Dillard was killed in action on White Beach along the southwestern coast of the Gila Peninsula on January 8, 1945.

JBs remains were originally buried in U.S. Armed Forces (USAF) Doroeba Cemetery #1, Morotai Island, grave 184 on January 9, 1945.  The American Graves Registration Service (AGRS), U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, was the organization charged with the recovery and identification of fallen U.S. service personnel during and after World War II in the Pacific Theater.  The AGRS returned to Doroeba Cemetery in early 1946 to consolidate all remote island burials to a central designated location at Finschafen Cemetery # 5 New Guinea.  On January 17, 1946 his remains were re-interred at USAF Finschafen Cemetery # 5, New Guinea, grave # 1381.

In 1947 a decision was made that all remains buried at Finschafen Cemetery should be consolidated to an AGRS Mausoleum, Manila, Philippine Islands.  Upon disinterment from Finschafen, no remains were received...for PFC Dillard. A Disinterment Discrepancy Report was issued on May 21, 1948, when no remains for PFC Dillard were found, contrary to the Report of Interment dated February 6, 1946.  Due to this discrepancy an obligatory deep excavation at grave # 1381, which extended deeper than the standard burial depth and incorporated all sides of the burial location was completed with negative results for PFC Dillards remains.  In the Case History by AGRS negative results were also received in efforts to associate unknown recovered remains as those of PFC Dillard.  Consequently, JBs remains were declared non-recoverable on November 2, 1949. To date his remains have not been found; a sister, who is in her 90's, has provided a DNA sample to assist in identifying his remains.

Not only did the U.S. Army lose JBs remains, the government also failed to list his name on the Walls of the Missing at either the Manila or Honolulu National Cemeteries. We are especially proud to honor his sacrifice for our nation by including him on our Matagorda County War Memorial.

Family information, pictures and military information concerning the loss of JBs remains have been graciously provided by his niece, Mrs. Nelda Brooks Wagner.



Final Rites Are Held Thursday, May 25 For Mrs. Lillie Jane Dillard

Funeral services for Mrs. Lillie Jane Dillard were held at the Palacios Funeral Home, Thursday, May 25 at 3 p.m. with the Rev. N. J. White conducting the service. Burial was in the Palacios Cemetery.

Born July 23, 1882 in Robinson County, Texas, a daughter of Isaac Harding and Mattie Madaline Harrell Taylor, she moved to Louise in 1909 and to this community 34 years ago. She passed away at the Wagner General Hospital, Wednesday morning, May 24.

Survivors include four daughters, Mrs. D. A. Brooks, Palacios; Mrs. C. C. Lee, LaWard, Mrs. Claud Cavallin, Point Comfort and Mrs. Joyce King, San Diego, Calif.; three sons, R. H. Dillard, Woodsboro, K. M. Dillard, Nederland, and M. W, Dillard, Palacios; one sister, Mrs. Hollis Crump, LaMarque and three brothers, H. A. Taylor, Corsicana, and V. T. Taylor, Houston.

Palacios Beacon, May 31, 1961

Mark and Lillie Jane Taylor Dillard

Final Rites Held Friday For Mark Dillard, 89

Funeral services were held for Mark Dillard at the Palacios Funeral Home at 2 p.m. Friday, March 4, with Rev. Clint Harris of the First Methodist Church conducting the service, assisted by Rev. Arthur White of LaWard. Burial was in the Palacios Cemetery.

Mr. Dillard was a farmer until he suffered a stroke in 1942, since then he and Mrs. Dillard had lived in Palacios until the end of last year when they went to live with their daughter, Mrs. C. C. Lee in LaWard. He died suddenly of a heart attack Thursday morning at the age of 89 years, 7 months and 23 days.

He was born on July 9, 1870 in Gonzales County, Texas, a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ruben Dillard. He joined the Methodist Church when a young man. On October 11, 1898 he married Lillie Jane Taylor and to this union were born eleven children, two died in infancy, a son, J. B., was killed in the service in 1943 [1945] and a daughter, Donna Fae Evans died in California in 1958.

Survivors include his wife, four daughters: Mrs. Ida Brooks of Palacios; Mrs. Carrie Lee of LaWard; Mrs. Iva Mae Cavallin of Point Comfort and Mrs. Joyce Glyma King of San Diego, Calif.; three sons, Rufus of Woodsboro; Koss of Netherlands and Murel of Palacios; 16 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.

Palacios Beacon, March 10, 1960

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