James Schaffner’s military career has many unique aspects.
Beginning with combat service in World War II, followed by his recall to active duty in the Korean War, and ending with more than 30 years in the Army Reserve and National Guard, the former soldier has invested many years in the service of his country. It’s no surprise that his dedication earned him the distinction of being selected for the Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
While living in St. Louis, Schaffner was inducted into the U.S. Army in September 1944 and completed basic training at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. When he was just 18, he deployed as a replacement infantry soldier in the Pacific. Assigned to the 7th Infantry Division, he won two Purple Hearts during combat in Okinawa in April 1945.
“By the time I got out of the hospital, the war was over, but I boarded a troop ship and was part of a group of soldiers sent to Korea for work duties,” did he declare. “During WWII, I went through every enlisted rank and eventually became acting master sergeant.”
He continued, “I didn’t return to Missouri until 1947 and decided to join the Army Reserve and received my direct commission as a second lieutenant.”
In the years to come, he married and briefly attended Rolla School of Mines before transferring to St. Louis Business College. But soon the Korean War broke out and the veteran was called back to active duty to serve as a nuclear, chemical and biological warfare instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia.
He said: “I was supposed to be on active duty for 18 months but was extended for another six months. Luckily I was able to have my wife and two young daughters with me.”
When he received his release from active duty, he returned to St. Louis and worked for the International Shoe Company as a buyer in the purchasing department. He was later promoted to office manager of one of the company’s factories, moving his family to Washington, Missouri.
Throughout it all, he remained determined to serve in a part-time military status and was eventually transferred from the Army Reserve to the Missouri National Guard.
“I was a first lieutenant when I tried to join the National Guard here in Missouri and the adjutant general said he didn’t have a place for me,” Schaffner said. “But then he said I could resign my commission and come in as a second lieutenant, which I did.”
Smiling, he added, “I backed off a bit…but it all went well.”
His full-time job then took him to Von Hoffman Press in St. Louis, overseeing sales accounts for a six-state region. From there it was transferred to their factory in Jefferson City, where the state government and TWA were its major printing accounts.
The private printing industry not only provided him with training in procurement procedures, but also introduced him to many people in the state government. Through these connections, he became acquainted with many of the Governor’s staff, and in 1965 was appointed Director of Purchasing for the State of Missouri by Governor Warren Hearnes, who was also a World War II veteran. world.
Three years later, he was appointed Director of State Revenue. Throughout this time he maintained his part-time involvement with the Missouri National Guard.
“When I was in the Missouri National Guard, I served in maintenance and artillery units, but Larry Adams, the adjutant general, asked me to join the Selective Service Section,” did he declare.
“At this time, the military draft was still in place and we helped oversee editorial boards across the state,” he added.
When Governor Hearnes left office in early 1973, Schaffner, as a political appointee, was left looking for a new job. Later that year, he and his family moved to Oklahoma when he was offered the position of Executive Assistant to the State Governor.
“While in Oklahoma, I was a lieutenant colonel and was told there was no opening in my rank,” Schaffner said. “So I talked to the governor about it, and he said he would take care of it.”
Pausing, he added, “He asked for a slot, and it was approved, and I stayed in the Oklahoma National Guard until I retired in 1986.”
Schaffner later served as a consultant to the Director of Oklahoma’s Department of Social Services and Director of Oklahoma’s Legislative and Bill Drafting Department. He retired from Oklahoma state government at the end of 1985.
After retirement, he volunteered with several organizations and lived for several years in Washington, Missouri, before moving to Jefferson City to be closer to one of his daughters.
A career that spanned virtually all enlisted ranks and ended as a lieutenant colonel provided Schaffner with many gripping moments to reflect on. This includes the time he served in the active U.S. Army during World War II, followed by decades in the Army Reserve and National Guard of two states, representing a collection of experiences that have been most humiliating.
“I can’t believe I’ve been chosen for the Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame; all I can say is I’m very honored,” Schaffner said.
“I guess after World War II I made the decision to stay in the military and continue to serve, and the reserves and the National Guard seemed like the best way to do it. Looking back, I just liked being a soldier.”
On September 9, Lt. Col. James Schaffner will be inducted into the Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Kirksville. For more information, please visit www.monghf.org.
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.