This is a letter written by his cousin; it reads:
James Wood Dashner - A Letter from Charles McCallister
My dearest Aunt:
I suppose this is the first time I have ever written to you Aunt Mima. I have always been able to maintain the closest contact through Mom and it never seemed necessary. I am sorry that this first letter must be written under such a sad circumstance but I hope we may come to know each other better through future correspondence and that we may be able to comfort each other in some way.
At a time like this, itís hard for any one, especially one who isnít good at words such as I, to say anything that might be on comfort to someone who has suffered a great loss like you have, but since I can at least tell you how James met his death, I feel that it might be of some comfort to you.
When Jim came to see me a few weeks before the invasion, I knew instinctively when I first saw him that I would like him. First of all his wonderful physique and handsome features command respect and once you talked with him his honest ways and great personality made you like very much. We were friends from the start. We had a pleasant afternoon of talking of home and loved ones and then I walked out on the road with him where he flagged a truck going toward his camp. We shook hands and wished each other luck and I thought as I watched him running to catch his truck ̶ ďWhat a great guy!Ē
That was the last time I saw him. I knew he jumped in France because he is in the same division as I am and I hoped to meet him there. His regiment was close by all the time but there was not time to try to get together until the 10th day when I located his company and went over to see about him. I found his platoon and it only took a glance around to prove to me Jim wasnít there. I hoped for the best but dreaded to ask about him. By chance I approached a former very close friend of his who was with him at the time, and when he told me what had happened it was quite a blow. By this time I had lost many friends and thought I had become hardened to it, but this was different. Jim was part of the family, the same blood as mine and that was different. But the battle field is no place to grieve so I made an effort to control my feelings and ask the fellow to tell me the details. This was what he told me:
ďJimís Section Leader had been killed and Jim was in charge so he took over the machine gun himself. His platoon was sent out on a flank and ran into plenty trouble. The enemy had them surrounded on three sides and had them pinned down with fire. Jim took the machine gun and was in a spot and was doing plenty of good, so the heinies started concentrating all their efforts on him. The̶y were trying to get him with a mortar. His platoon leader saw that were getting close and yelled to Jim that heíd better get out of there. The boys in the platoon said it was possible Jim didnít hear as they had never known him to refuse to obey an order but his time he didnít want to move. So he stayed right there and fired until his gun was red hot. Then they got zeroed in on him and landed a mortar shell right on top of him. He died instantly but his hand was still clutching the trigger. As a result of his continued fire, the platoon was able to advance on their objective.Ē
On the way back to my outfit I let myself go and cried like a baby but I wasnít ashamed of it.
When his son gets old enough, tell him how his father died and his sonís son, for our family must never forget him. Letís try to replace grief with pride in the way he died and the things he died for, as that is the way Jim would want it.
Yes, his outfit has lost a great soldier, his buddies have lost a great friend, but you have lost a son. God has not left us without consolation. We know that all is done in fulfillment of Godís will and that not even a sparrow falls that He does not know, and though we are inclined to ask the reason why ̶ who are we to question His will. He has promised that we shall one day all be together again and there find happiness that shall never end, where there is no sorrow, tears nor grief. Jim is there tonight under Godís loving care. He will never again have to experience the horrors of battle. I can hear him saying ̶ ďdonít grieve for me, Iím happy here, and when we meet again, we will never be separated.Ē I talked to Jim, Aunt Mima. He was ready to go ̶ I know.
No one knows how heavy your heart is tonight, but if I could in some small way help to take his place, I would like to be your son. I know that I could never fill his place in your heart just as no one could take the place of my mother if God should see fit to take her away. But we can be a comfort to each other.
I want you to let Jimís wife and baby know that if there is any way in which I might ever help them, for them not to hesitate to call on me. There is nothing I wouldnít do for them for Jimís sake.
Give my love and sympathy to them and Martha and his brothers.
With all my love
James is still buried in Normandy France in the beautiful Military Cemetery overlooking the cliffs of Normandy's Omaha Beach.