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Joy shares view of Hiroshima in ruins
As a young serviceman in the Navy, James Joy holds his first daughter for a picture.

James Joy remembers the ship, an oil tanker that helped refuel dozens of craft across both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of World War II.

He and Navy crew mates had been traveling "up and down the coast of Japan, about 200 miles out" when they reached Hiroshima.

Joy and 35 or 40 others took a whale boat to the city, which had been devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.

"There was nothing left in there. Nothing," he said. "There were buildings, but they had collapsed and everything. ... People were wearing (medicines) from where they had gotten burned.

"Then I went back to where the tanker was at, and we headed home."
Three days later, the U.S. dropped the second and final A-bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ending the war.

The Japanese surrendered on Aug. 15, with news reaching America on Aug. 14 because of the time zone difference.

At the time, Joy was still stationed aboard an oil tanker near Japan.

He couldn't recall exactly where he was at.

And even though no celebration erupted aboard the ship upon hearing the news, he remembered what he was thinking.

"I was glad when that thing was over with," said Joy, who lives off Shirley Road in North Hall.

Joy, 86, had been in the Navy since 1943. An Alabama native, he moved to Gainesville and went into the produce business with his brother - work that he would do for about 25 years.

In the Navy, he first journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean and took part in the war against Germany and Italy. He made trips to such places as Casablanca, Italy, Algiers, Sicily and Naples.

After about a year, Joy was transferred to the Pacific, still aboard an oil tanker. There, at one point early on, he stayed 28 days anchored at Iwo Jima - a Japanese stronghold where some 6,000 Marines died in vicious fighting.

Later, Joy's ship traveled to Okinawa and then ended up alongside U.S. minesweepers in the Japanese Inland Sea.

His vessel served to refuel all types of crafts, from destroyers to carriers.

"We set the world record for refueling at sea," Joy said.

After V-J Day, he was later discharged from the Navy in Jacksonville, Fla.

Back in the U.S., Joy would go on to work in the construction business for 20 years, eventually retiring. He and his wife of 66 years, Edith, live on a nature-filled lot off Lake Lanier.

Looking back over his time in the service, Joy nods his head, which is covered by a Navy cap.

"I still think about it, but it hasn't ever bothered me," he said.