History of Ray City School

In 1918, a contract for a new school building in Ray City, GA was let out by the Board of Education. Plans for the building were drawn by Valdosta architect Lloyd B. Greer. The contract for materials went to A. H. Miller Hardware Store in Ray City.

Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record, September 25, 1919, announcement of construction at Ray City, GA

Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record, September 25, 1919, announcement of construction at Ray City, GA

Construction on the brick school building, which has been preserved in Ray City and which now houses the Joe Sizemore Community Library, began in 1920.  The Ray City School opened in 1922.

Ray City School, March 11, 1927. In 1918, the Berrien County School Board put out a contract for a new school building in Ray City, GA. Plans for the building were drawn by Valdosta architect Lloyd B. Greer. Materials were supplied by A. H. Miller Hardware Store in Ray City. The school opened in 1922.

Ray City School, March 11, 1927.

The brick school building at Ray City, GA was designed by Valdosta architect Lloyd Greer.  Among other buildings designed by Greer were:  Federal Building and Post Office, Valdosta, GA; Carnegie  Library, Valdosta,GA; First Church of Christ, Scientist, Tallahassee, FL; James Price McRee House, Camilla, GA; Dasher High School, Valdosta, GA; Barney School, Barney, GA; Barber-Pitman House, Valdosta, GA; Lanier County Auditorium and Grammar School, Lakeland, GA; Ilex Theater, Quitman,GA; Moultrie Theater, Moultrie, GA; United Cigar Store Building, Jacksonville, GA; Quitman Library, Quitman, GA; Echols County High School, Statenville, GA; Barrow Hall, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA; Pine Grove School, Fitzgerald, GA; Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, GA; Douglas Negro High School and Douglas White High School, Douglas, GA; Nichols House,Valdosta, GA; Berrien High School, Nashville, GA. The Lyric Theater, Waycross,GA was designed by Greer.

Old Wooden School at Ray City, GA

The Ray City High School Class of 1949 wrote, “The school of our community was begun long before our town received its present name having been known as Rays Mill. “

Among those early teachers of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) was  Henry Harrison Knight (1840-1898).  These teachers   taught in the little one room log house schools  of Berrien county, and were often paid in “found” – bartered, homegrown commodities such as ham, chickens, eggs, or butter.

The first school building was located on the east side of town. This building was destroyed by fire. Then a log cabin called the Alliance Building was constructed in 1898, and was used for about two years.

In January 1898, the Tifton Gazette reported that Robert Crawford Woodard was the teacher at the Rays Mill academy.  He later went on to become a physician.

In 1900 the interested people of the community decided to make an improvement in the school plant. Trees were cut from their lands and carried to Sutton’s Sawmill to be made into lumber, for the purpose of erecting a frame building. That stood where our present building is now standing. It consisted of one large room. Some of the interested patrons who helped with this building were: J. S. Swindle, W. E. Langford, Isaac Burkhalter, Redding Swindle, and W. M. Knight. With the aid of other patrons they completed the first Ray City School. -History of Ray City School (1948-49 Yearbook)

The town experienced a boom period when the Georgia & Florida Railroad came to Ray City in 1909.The increased population made it necessary to make an addition of two more rooms to the school.” -History of Ray City School (1948-49 Yearbook)

The January 19, 1911 edition of the Valdosta Times reported news of the school in Rays Mill (now Ray City).   Husband and wife team James Marcus Patten and Ida Lou Hall Patten were running the school. Professor J.M. Patten was college educated, having completed the teacher education program at North Georgia Agricultural College, and had twenty years experience teaching in the common schools of Berrien County.

In 1918,  the Reverend John W. Shoemate and Mrs. Harriet M. Shoemate came to Ray City to take charge of the school.   Reverend Shoemate was a native of Tennessee, and a Baptist minister.  Mrs. Shoemate was a native of South Dakota, and college educated. In Ray City, they were the neighbors of Professor and Mrs. J. M. Patten.  Mrs. Patten was also then occupied teaching public school.  The Ray City School was then still held in the three-room, wood frame building, and educated  students through the eighth grade. One student from this time period was Claudey Belle Hester, who wrote well enough for publication in Progressive Farmer.

According to the Annual Report of the Department of Education, in 1920 the public high school in Ray’s Mill was a 2-year Junior High School. Sankey Booth was Superintendent of the school and later served on the Berrien County Board of Education. One of the teachers in old Ray City was Louannie Eudell Webb (1902-1972), who started teaching by age 17.  She was a daughter of Luther Webb and Mary J. Albritton, and had only an 8th grade education herself. She married Leroy Lorenzo Carter on August 3, 1922. Another teacher at Ray City in 1920 was Lucile Fountain; she taught the fourth grade class. According to later census records, she herself had only attended school through the 4th grade.  It was the talk of the town when her beau, Calvin Simmons, came and got her out of class  and took her to get married on February 13, 1923. Maria Antoniette Poblete Knight worked as an art teacher at the Ray City School in the 1920s.

The Brick School

That [multi-room wood school house] was used until 1920 when work on the present building was started. -History of Ray City School (from the 1948-49 Yearbook)

Ray City School, 1948-49, C. W. Schmoe, Principal.

Ray City School, 1948-49, C. W. Schmoe, Principal.

In 1924, the Georgia Library Commission added the Ray City School as the only station in Berrien County for the Georgia Traveling Library.   the Georgia Library Commission had been created in 1919 by the General Assembly with and annual appropriation of $6,000, which included funds for the maintenance of traveling libraries.  These traveling libraries typically provided 50 or 100 books, which were available for a few months before being passed on to the next station.

Wilma Harper began her 60 year teaching career at the Ray City School in 1928 at the age of 18.  There she met and fell in love with Prentice M. Shultz, who taught and was principal at Ray City School. A year later they were married.

In 1928, the Georgia Library Commission reported  library service offered in Berrien only at Ray City, through the Ray City School and at the Kings Chapel School.

The Great Depression took a great toll on Berrien County, and Ray City struggled with funding to keep the school open. Only through the generous contributions of local citizens and by charging students a tuition, was the school able to continue for the full term. In 1930, the school could not even afford to hold graduation exercises.

In the 1930s many schools in smaller communities were consolidated. In 1936, Pleasant Vale and Sapling Grove schools were closed and the students sent to Ray City.

The Ray City School held a junior high school rating until 1936, when it became an accredited senior high school. Another classroom building was added that year to the school plant. -History of Ray City School (from the 1948-49 Yearbook)

By the 1940-41 school term, New Lois High School was also consolidated with Ray City High School.

In the early days students at Ray City School brought their own lunches to school and ate outside on the school grounds, as there was no lunchroom or kitchen to prepare food.  David Miley recalled a sow that used to come into the playground, and snatch the lunch bags of unsuspecting kids. The school grounds were fenced and had a cattle gap to keep free ranging livestock from entering the schoolyard.  Even so, livestock could and did occasionally get into the school yard.  By 1941, the school had a lunch room serving 150 students a day.

In 1950, half of the Ray City grammar school students appeared barefoot in the annual school photos.

In 1950, half of the Ray City grammar school students appeared barefoot in the annual school photos.

William E. “Bill” Griner (1902-1984) was the janitor at the Ray City School. He came to school very early every day and built a fire in the potbellied stove in every room. There were four classrooms and the soup kitchen in the old wooden building. In the brick building there were six classrooms, the principal’s office and the laboratory, each with their own stove.  At Christmas, every student brought Bill a gift. Bill had a nephew nicknamed Peanut, and although Bill himself had only two years of formal schooling, he worked hard to make sure that Peanut made it through high school. Peanut later became a policeman at Remerton, GA.

 

Fence and cattle gap in front of the Ray City School kept livestock out of the schoolyard, 1949.

Fence and cattle gap in front of the Ray City School kept livestock out of the schoolyard, 1949.

During WWII, Ray City School did its part.  Wilma G. Schultz was the draft Registrar for the Ray City School precinct.   Vocational agriculture teacher St. Elmo Lee gave up his classrooms at Ray City  and New Lois, GA for the U.S. Army. Graduates and former students left Ray City to go to war. Some never came back.  Hubert Comer (RCHS 1940) joined the Navy and was killed in the D-Day invasion of Normandy Beach. Harry Elmore Devane (RCHS 1938) also joined the Navy.  On D-Day Devane was a boat officer on a tank landing craft at Omaha Beach. He was killed in an accident aboard the aircraft carrier USS FDR after the war. James A. Swindle (RCHS 1936) captained a B-26 Marauder and flew 75 bombing missions; he was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Maurice “Max” Johnson (RCHS 1940) served as a B-24 pilot during WWII from 1942 to 1945. Leland E Langford (RCHS 1939) enlisted on June 12, 1941, serving as an Army pilot until he was killed in a plane crash in 1949.   J.I. Clements (RCHS 1938) joined the Army and fought in Germany. Many other alumni of Ray City School served as well.

 

In 1940, Lelia McConnell was a cook in the WPA school lunch room. Allie Starling was lunchroom supervisor and Martha Burkhalter was lunchroom waitress.  Earl W. Deloach was a bus driver.  Prentiss M. Shultz was superintendent and his wife, Wilma G. Shultz was a teacher.  Mary Peele was a music teacher. Other teachers were Jessie Francis Webb, Hazel Tabor, James Gaskins Grady, Earnestine M. Zeigler, Eloise M. Williams, Josephine Collier,  and Dorothy Chisholm. Maurice “Max” Johnson (RCHS 1940) was assistant janitor.

William R. “Mac” McClure was principal of the school in the mid 1940s. Charles Woodrow “Woody” Schmoe served as principal in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His wife, Nancy Young Schmoe, taught 5th Grade.

 

In 1947 a fifteen thousand dollar gymnasium was constructed by the patrons, a building in which the whole community justly takes pride (1948-49 Yearbook).  The town dedicated the building with a big dance celebration and the crowning of the Queen of the Harvest.  One of the teachers that year was Emily Britton Parker, wife of the Methodist Minister Pledger Parker.

In 1948, a vocational building was erected by the veterans of World War II, at the end of five years this … [became] a part of Ray City School.

It was in 1949 that veterans of World War II built  a “very modern and up-to-date lunchroom” for the school.

In 1954, Ray City High School and all other white high schools in the county were combined into Nashville High School.  The brick school building at Ray City continued to serve as an elementary and middle school until 1994, when all county schools were consolidated into facilities in Nashville.

James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

James Henry  “Jim” Swindle was a businessman and politician of Ray City, GA.  He was born near Ray City Aug 6, 1886, a son of Margaret Melvina Futch and George Emory Swindle.  A previous post gave his bio from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.  He was involved in many civic organizations including the Baptist church, Masons, and Lions Club, and served in public offices from Mayor of Ray City to Representative in the Georgia Assembly.

James H. Swindle

James H. Swindle

Jim Swindle was a brother of Leonard Columbus Swindle, John N. Swindle, George Perry Swindle, Roy C. Swindle, and Leonidas A. Swindle.

In the Census of 1900 James H. Swindle was enumerated with his parents and brothers in his father’s household in the Connell’s Mill District near Rays Mill, GA. The Swindle family farm was located on the Rays Mill & Cat Creek Road. Jim and his younger brothers all attended school, while his older brother, Leonard, helped his father with the farm labor.

After the 1909 death of  his father, G.E. Swindle, at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA , Jim became the head of the household and took over the family farm.

James Henry “Jim” Swindle became a prominent businessman of Berrien County. By 1908, he was involved in the organization of the Bank of  Rays Mill, which later became the Citizens Bank of Ray City.  It is said that the Swindle family owned much of the land where present day Ray City is located, and when the town was officially incorporated in 1909, he became one of the first residents.  In 1912 he married Sarah Ellen  “Stell” Daniel in Nashville, GA, and the couple made their home at Ray City.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

Together with James S. Swindle, James Henry Swindle owned the Ray City Hotel, which stood on the location later occupied by the Clements Fountain. The Swindles employed J.F. Hineley to operate the hotel. The hotel and all of its contents were destroyed, along with several other buildings, in the Ray City fire of Sunday, April 25, 1915.

James Henry Swindle was 30 years old when he registered for the draft in WWI on June 5, 1917.  He gave his occupation as  a self-employed farmer  and merchant working in Ray City, Ga. He was described as medium height, medium build, black hair, and blue eyes.  His draft card was signed by D.A. Sapp.

By 1920 James H. Swindle had located his wife and family in a house on Main Street in Ray City, Georgia. They owned the home free and clear.  Their neighbors were C . Oscar Terry and Leon L. Parrish.  J.H. Swindle was a merchant, operating a grain and feed store on his own account.

Among other elected positions, Jim Swindle served 12 years on the Berrien County Board of Education, including four years as Chairman.

1925 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Ch. Ray City
A. L. Akins.. . .Nashville
J. H. Swindle …Ray City
C.B.Harris–. -Enigma
George P. Griffin Nashville

1927 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Chm., Ray City
J. R. McLamb
J. H. Swindle, Ray City
A. L. Akins, Nashville
W. K. Sikes

In the census of 1930, Swindle listed his principle occupation as operator of a gin. He owned cotton gins in Ray City, and at Barretts in Lowndes County, GA.

“The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.”

Another of his 1930s business concerns was the operation of a bank at Ray City.

“The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J.H. Swindle, with Mr. E.J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.”

Later, J.I. Clements worked for a while as cashier of the Peoples Banking Company.  Jim Swindle’s brother, L. C. Swindle also operated a bank at Ray City, the Farmers Bank.

In 1932 J. H. Swindle again served on the Berrien County Board of Education and in 1934 he was Mayor of Ray City.

On Jan 14, 1939 the Speaker of the House of the Georgia Assembly announced the Legislative Committee Chairmen. James H. Swindle of Berrien was named as chair of the General Agriculture Committee No. 1.   Just a few days later on January 31, 1939 the Atlanta Constitution reported that James Henry Swindle, of Ray City, was declaring as a candidate for State Commissioner of Agriculture.

J.H. Swindle, ‘Just a Small Farmer,’ Says Markets Aren’t Working.
January 31, 1939

By the Associated Press.

  Representative J.H. Swindle, of Berrien, who describes himself as “just a small farmer,” announced yesterday he would seek election as state commissioner of agriculture in 1940.

  Swindle, a veteran of three terms in the legislature, is chairman of the house committee on agriculture No. 1.

  Columbus Roberts, present commissioner of agriculture, concludes his present term in 1940. He has been mentioned as a likely candidate to succeed Governor Rivers.

  Swindle said he would favor revision of the state’s present agricultural policy to give greater assistance to the farmers in disposing of their products.

  “The farmer can dump his stuff anywhere,” he said. “The present system (of farmers’ markets) is not working any special good to the farmers.”

  Swindle urged that the state provide price reporting service as well as a place where farmers may bring their produce for sale. He also suggested that the state assist the farmers “to put his produce in proper shape for disposal” by grading and collecting individual shipments into single lots.

  “I would even be willing to try the auction system,” often results in the price for a commodity being set at an unfairly low level because one or more of the earliest sellers were unaware of the correct price and disposed of their produce below the market level.

  Swindle, a 52-year-old native of Berrien county, has served two years as mayor of Ray city, eight years on the city council, and 12 years on the county board of education, including four years as chairman. He is engaged in farming, operates a cotton gin, and purchases cotton and farm products for resale. He is married, and has two daughters and a son.

In 1941, James H. Swindle was appointed to serve again on the Berrien County Board of Education to replace Henry A. Swindle who had resigned from the Board in December 1940.  In October, the Board members elected J.H. Swindle as Chairman of the Board.

A 1941 mention in the Nashville Herald said:

Mr. J.H. Swindle is a prominent citizen of this city [Ray City].  He owns most of the business buildings in Ray City.  He is our past representative, having served four years.  He owns extensive farms and the gin.  He is a cotton buyer, a cottonseed buyer, and a corn buyer.

James H. Swindle continued his involvement in civic affairs. In the 1940s he worked to bring better roads to Ray City, and in 1947 served on the building committee for the new Ray City School gym.

In 1953 he was elected vice-president of the South Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Children of Stell Daniel and James Henry Swindle:

  1. Margaret Virginia Swindle  (Oct 28, 1914)
  2. Doris E. Swindle  (1916-1941)
  3. Grace E Swindle
  4. James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993)
Grave marker of James Henry "Jim" Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of James Henry “Jim” Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Related Posts:

James Aaron Swindle and the “Sarah E” B-26 Marauder

James A. Swindle, Sept 3, 1942, Ft McPherson, GA

James A. Swindle, Sept 3, 1942, Ft McPherson, GA

Captain James Aaron Swindle

James Aaron Swindle was born January 1, 1920, a son of  Sarah Ellen “Stell” Daniel and James H. Swindle of Ray City, GA.  His father was a farmer and merchant of Ray City who served as a City Councilman, Mayor, Chairman of the County Board of Education, and Georgia State Assemblyman (see James Henry Swindle). James A. Swindle graduated from Ray City High School in 1936.  He attended two years of college and was afterwards employed by the U.S. Engineers at Florence, S.C.  In 1940 he was residing in his parents household in Ray City; he was employed as a rodman for the highway department.

On January 2, 1942 James A. Swindle enlisted as an Aviation Cadet  at Turner Field, Albany, GA. It appears that James attended basic training at Ft. McPherson, East Point, GA. He attended  advanced flight training at the Columbus Army Flying School in Mississippi where he learned to fly the B-26 Martin Marauder. This aircraft, while eventually becoming one of the chief bombardment weapons in the European Theater, was regarded as challenging to fly.  James Swindle graduated September 6, 1942 commissioned a Second Lieutenant,  and received the silver wings of a flying officer in the  U.S. Army Air Force.

James A. Swindle graduated from Advanced Flight School, September 3, 1942.

James A. Swindle graduated from Advanced Flight School, September 3, 1942.

The Atlanta Constitution September 3, 1942  The Army and Navy in Georgia       Two Atlantans and five Georgians are members of a class of flying cadets which graduated from the new Columbus Army Flying School near Columbus, Miss. September 6.  They received the silver wings of a flying officer and commissions as second lieutenants in the Army Air Forces.      They are Mario M. Hulsey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Monroe Hulsey, of 701 Elkmont drive, Guy Blalock Harris, son of Mr. and Mrs. Covert Durham Harris, of 792 Cumberland road; Edward D. Gillespie, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Gillespie, of Savannah; Richard L. Lang, son of Mrs. E. M. Lang, of Calhoun; James A. Swindle, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Swindle, of Ray City; Richard A. Young, of Savannah, and Berton Hugh Ramsey Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Berton Hugh Ramsey, of Statesboro.

James A. Swindle was a pilot  of the B-26 Marauder “Sarah E”.  The plane may have been named after his mother, Sarah Ellen Swindle. His Crew Chief was Tech Sergeant D.H. Snyder, the Assistant Crew Chief  was Cpl. Vincent J. Mosca, and Sgt. Chief McCarry was Grease Monkey. Other members of the crew have not been identified.

The "Sarah E" B-26 Marauder, flown by James A. Swindle during WWII. Image Source: Vincent Mosca http://www.b26.com/marauderman/vincent_j_mosca.htm

The “Sarah E” B-26 Marauder, flown by James A. Swindle during WWII. Image Source: Vincent Mosca http://www.b26.com/marauderman/vincent_j_mosca.htm

James and his crew were assigned to the 451st Squadron, 322d Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force.  Part of the 322d Bombardment Group moved overseas to RAF Bury St Edmunds, England,  through November and December of 1942 with planes and crews following  March through April of 1943.  Swindle departed for overseas in early 1943.  Ongoing construction at Bury St. Edmunds forced two of the group’s squadrons to locate at RAF Rattlesden, and the group’s aircraft did not arrive until late in March 1943.

James A. Swindle (far right, kneeling) with his crew in front of the "Sarah E". The names of Lt. J.A. Swindle, Pilot, and Tech Sgt. D.H. Snyder are visible on the fuselage below the cockpit. Image Source: Ron O'Neal.

James A. Swindle (far right, kneeling) with his crew in front of the “Sarah E”. The names of Lt. J.A. Swindle, Pilot, and Tech Sgt. D.H. Snyder are visible on the fuselage below the cockpit. Image Source: Ron O’Neal.

James Swindle, pilot of the "Sarah E" B-26 Marauder, flew 74 missions in WWII.

James Swindle, pilot of the “Sarah E” B-26 Marauder, flew 74 missions in WWII. Corporal Vincent J. Mosca served as Assistant Crew Chief, and Sgt. Chief McCarry was Grease Monkey. Source: Vincent Mosca http://www.b26.com/marauderman/vincent_j_mosca.htm

Once operational, the 322d flew two low-level bombing operations from Bury St. Edmunds. The first, on May 14, 1943 put up 12 planes for a minimum-level attack on an electrical generating plant near Ijtnuiden, a port city in North Holland. This was the first operational combat mission flown by B-26s in Europe. The second was a disastrous return mission to Holland.  On May 17, 1943, 11 B-26 Marauders of the 322nd Bombardment Group (BG) took off for a low altitude bombing mission against the Ijmuiden and Haarlem Power Stations in Holland. With the exception of one aborting aircraft, all were shot down in German occupied territory.  Sixty crewmen were lost to flak and interceptors. Group morale was not improved when, on 29 May, a B-26 crashed onto the airfield, killing the crew and damaging a hangar. After these missions, the group was re-equipped and trained for medium-altitude operations for several weeks before returning to combat operations. On 13 June, the 322d moved to RAF Andrews Field in Essex.

B-26 of the 322d Medium Bomb Group at RAF Andrews Field, on the perimeter track prior to takeoff - Spring 1944. (World War II)

B-26 of the 451st Squadron 322nd Medium Bomb Group at RAF Andrews Field, on the perimeter track prior to takeoff – Spring 1944. (World War II)

The 322nd Bomber Group and other aircraft stationed in England were carrying out daylight bombing raids on German targets. The most direct bombing route to took the planes within reach of German interceptors at the Amsterdam/Schiphol airfield in Nazi occupied Holland. The Germans stationed dayfighters (mainly Me 109’s and some Fw 190’s) at Amsterdam/Schiphol airfield to attack the American bomber formations on their way to Germany. The strategic importance of the airfield and the growing threat to the success of attacks against Germany meant Amsterdam/Schiphol airfield had to be bombed.

James A. Swindle at the controls of the B-26 Marauder.

James A. Swindle at the controls of the B-26 Marauder.

On the 29th of July, 1943 B-26 bombers of 323 Bombardment Group tried to attack Amsterdam/Schiphol airfield for the first time, but the mission failed due to problems with the flight navigation. The mission was repeated on October 3, 1943, this time with Swindle’s squadron participating. The heavily defended target was bombed – but the airfield was only slightly damaged. All aircraft returned, despite the attacks by German fighters and heavy flak fire. A third strike on Amsterdam/Schiphol was planned for October 16, but this mission was canceled. Along with other Marauder units of the 3rd Bomb Wing, the 322d was transferred to Ninth Air Force on October 16, 1943. The group continued to attack enemy targets in France, Belgium, and Holland attacking the principal targets but the group also attacked secondary targets such as power stations, shipyards, construction works, and marshalling yards. On the afternoon of November 3, 1943, eighteen B-26’s from the 322, 323, 386 and 387 Bomber Groups again took off to attack the heavily defended Nazi airfield at Amsterdam/Schiphol. The American B-26 bombers reached the target in the late afternoon and began their bomb run at about 3:50 PM. The Germans threw up heavy defenses with intense flak cover over the field. Swindle’s group, the 322nd Bomber Group, were the first to attack, followed by the 387th and the 323rd Bomber Groups. One B-26 was shot down on this mission, the first of Swindle’s squadron mates to be lost. On December 11, 1943 Andrews Field was attacked by the Luftwaffe but little damage was done. Two days later on December 13, 1943 Swindle’s squadron, the 451st Bomber Squadron, struck back returning for the third time to Amsterdam/Schiphol. This attack was successful – the airfield was inundated by water pouring through broken dikes as result of bombing. By January of 1944, James A. Swindle and the “Sarah E”  had flown 25  combat missions. James was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross  for “outstanding Achievement while serving as pilot of a B-26 Marauder in hazardous bombing missions over enemy-occupied continental Europe.”

The January 13, 1944 Valdosta Times reported that James A. Swindle had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross after flying twenty-five combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.

The January 13, 1944 Valdosta Times reported that James A. Swindle had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross after flying twenty-five combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe. B-26 of the 322d Medium Bomb Group at RAF Andrews Field, on the perimeter track prior to takeoff – Spring 1944. (World War II)

Beginning in March 1944 the 322nd bombed railway and highway bridges, oil tanks, and missile sites in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. A later newspaper article gave an update after James had completed 40 combat missions.

Lt. Swindle has piloted a Marauder in 40 attacks against Nazi installations in enemy-occupied Holland, Belgium and France thus far. In addition to the D.F.C. he also wears the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters. He rates as his most interesting mission a recent attack against the Luftwaffe base at Amsterdam Schipol, in Holland, when flak fragments hit the windshield of his aircraft and spattered glass all over his lap. ” It was the most concentrated flak that I have ever seen,” he said upon return from the mission.

Maintenance on the "Sarah E", B-26 Marauder flown by James A. Swindle, of Ray City, GA

Maintenance on the “Sarah E”, B-26 Marauder flown by James A. Swindle, of Ray City, GA Source: Vincent Mosca http://www.b26.com/marauderman/vincent_j_mosca.htm

On D-Day, 6 June 1944 the 322d Bomb Group attacked coastal defenses and gun batteries. Afterwards, during the Normandy campaign, the 322d pounded fuel and ammunition dumps, bridges, and road junctions, supporting the Allied offensive.

B-26 Maruder of the 322d Bomb Group at on a bomb run during World War II. Source: National Archives via the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama

B-26 Marauder of the 322d Bomb Group on a bomb run during World War II. Source: National Archives via the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama

On June 25th, 1944 a German Buzz bomb hit near the end of the runway where the 451st squadron was stationed. That day,  the “Sarah E” completed her 100th mission.

From Andrews Field the 322d received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the period 14 May 1943 – 24 July 1944. The group moved during September 1944, transferring to Beauvais (A-61) Airfield in northern France, and aiding the drive of Third Army across France.

After D-Day Swindle’s group deployed to Advanced Landing Grounds in France and later Belgium. The 322nd Bomber Group Provided tactical air support and bombardment of enemy strong points and military targets to disrupt resistance to Allied ground forces advancing from the French invasion beaches and the ensuing offensives on the continent; 1944-1945.  They attacked enemy forces as part of the Western Allied invasion of Germany in 1945 and continued offensive tactical operations in support of ground forces until German surrender in May 1945.

The 322nd flew its last mission on 24 April 1945. After V-E Day, the group was assigned to occupation duty in Germany beginning in June 1945, engaging in inventorying and disassembling German Air Force equipment and facilities.  The 322nd returned to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey in December 1945, and was deactivated on 15 December.

In all, James Aaron Swindle was decorated with the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the African-European Campaign Medal, Caribbean Campaign Medal, and a Presidential Group Citation. He flew 74 combat missions between July 1943 and November 1944. The B-26 Marauder “Sarah E” that was “his” plane was flown by other pilots. According to Marauder historian Trevor Allen, at www.b26.com, “Sarah E”  completed 140 combat missions before running out of fuel and crashing into a cow pasture in France November 1944.

Other Ray City AAF men included B-24 Liberator pilot Max Maurice Johnson, and flying officer Jim Paulk. Charles Shaw  entered the Army Air Force and was trained as a mechanic for the B-17 Flying Fortress.    Sgt. Mitchell Moore was assigned  to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator. Howell Shaw served at Sedalia Army Air Field and William C. Webb served in the Medical Corps of the Army Air Force. Lt. Jamie Connell, of Nashville, served as a  navigator-bombardier. Saunto Sollami served in the Army Air Corp and came to the area after the war. Sergeant Dillard Markham was stationed at Moody Army Air Base when he married Ray City girl Ruth Boyette.

After the war,  James A. Swindle returned to his home town, Ray City, GA.  He became a cattle rancher with land on Possum Creek Road near Ray City, a spread he called “Rolling Green Farm”. He married Betty Ann Patten from Lakeland, GA, a UGA Class of 1943 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Heath Education. A 1979 advertisement in the Florida Cattleman and Livestock Journal indicates he was a breeder of Brahman cattle.

James A. Swindle, cattleman, was a breeder of Brahman cattle

James A. Swindle, cattleman, was a breeder of Brahman cattle

James A. Swindle was killed on September 10, 1993 when he was gored by one of his bulls. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993), Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Ray City plays 4 H basketball

In 2006 during the remodeling of a house at 507 Jones street, Ray City, Georgia a small cache of sooty, crumbling documents were retrieved from where they had fallen behind the fireplace mantel. These documents included receipts, letters, postcards, playing cards and photographs, among other things.

One item was a 1931 letter from the county agricultural agent Donald L. Branyon to the boys of the 4-H Club.  The letter refers to a Nashville, GA basketball tournament featuring the team from Ray City.

1931  4-H letter.

Transcript added 12 July 2010:

Nashville, Georgia
March 17, 1931

Dear Club Boys:
Spring is here and it’s time for the acres of corn and cotton to be prepared and planted. The Club pigs should be fed and cared for religiously and the chicks hatched. In short, whatever your Club project is, get busy and do your best.

On Friday night, March 20th, there will be a 4-H basketball tournament at the Shell in Nashville.  Alapaha, Ray City, Nashville Grammar School and Enigma will play. You Club boys are cordially invited to attend these games, which are free.

Trusting that you are doing your best in Club work and asking you to call on me for any help you need, I am

Yours Sincerely,

D.L. Branyon,
County Agricultural Agent.

DLB
ieh

In the summer of 1931, A number of Ray City youth and some adults attended the 4-H summer courses at Camp Wilkins, UGA. Among the boys attending from Ray City were Bernard Johnson (RCHS 1930), Brown King (RCHS 1930),  Leland Langford  (RCHS, 1939),  J. D. Luke, Billy McDonald,  James Swindle  (RCHS, 1936).

1944 – Ray City Boy Awarded Important Air Medal

 

 

James A. Swindle

Ray City Boy Awarded Important Air Medal

Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for Outstanding Achievement

A Medium Bomber Station, Eng. — The Distinguished Flying Cross recently was awarded at this Marauder Station to First Lieutenant James Aaron Swindle, 24, of Ray City Ga.,  for “outstanding Achievement while serving as pilot of a B-26 Marauder in hazardous bombing missions over enemy-occupied continental Europe.”

Lt. Swindle has piloted a Marauder in 40 attacks against Nazi installations in enemy-occupied Holland, Belgium and France thus far. In addition to the D.F.C. he also wears the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.

He rates as his most interesting mission a recent attack against the Luftwaffe base at Amsterdam Schipol, in Holland, when flak fragments hit the windshield of his aircraft and spattered glass all over his lap. ” It was the most concentrated flak that I have ever seen,” he said upon return from the mission.

Lt. Swindle graduated from Ray City high school in 1936 and was employed by the U.S. Engineers at Florence, S.C. before he enlisted in the service on Jan 2. 1942. He graduated from advanced flight training September 6, 1942, at the Columbus Miss., Army Flying School and left for overseas service early in 1943.

He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Swindle of Ray City.

EDITORS NOTE: Lt. Swindle’s father stated this week that his flying son had completed 44 missions over enemy territory as of March 4. He will return to the States, it is understood, when he reaches the 50-mark.

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