Pacific War Diary - USS Montpelier 1942-1945             By James J. Fahey      

     James J. Fahey was born in the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York. At a very young age, both of his parents died. James and his siblings left New York to live with the their aunt and uncle. They were raised in the wonderful city of Waltham, Massachusetts. On October 3, 1942, during the heat of World War II, Fahey enlisted in the Navy.  A month and a half later, on November 23, he boarded the U.S.S. Montpelier. His rank was Seaman First Class. His duty was firing a 40 millimeter machine gun. Fahey was kept very busy aboard ship. The 'Monty' fought in nearly every battle in the South and Central Pacific. In fact, the Montpelier won thirteen battle stars, which was the most of any ship in the Pacific during World War II.

At the end of the war, after America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, the Montpelier was among the first ships to visit Hiroshima. Fahey walked through Hiroshima, and the radiation poisoning led to health problems for him that were to last a lifetime. While all of this took place, Fahey kept a secret diary. He wrote down his schedules, his meals, his feelings, the ship's whereabouts, etc. He had to keep this secret because it was against the rules to keep a written record while aboard a naval vessel. He wrote his diary on anything he could get his hands on: loose paper, candy wrappers, he even used some of the admiral's stationary.

Upon returning home on December 24, 1945, Fahey hid his diary in a tin box under his bed, in fear of it being discovered. He soon forgot about his diary and continued his life as it had been before the war. Fahey was forced to make a living by working outside, because of health problems caused by radiation exposure. So he decided to work in Waltham's sanitation department. Fahey worked as a trash collector and later became a garbage truck driver.

In 1960, Admiral Samuel Elliot Morrison, an officer on the Montpelier, was writing a memoir about his service during World War II, and he asked Fahey for some insights. Fahey offered the Admiral his diary entries. The offer was accepted, and finally after 15 years of being hid away, Fahey's diary was acknowledged once again. When Morrison saw Fahey's diary he was astounded. He advised him to take his notes to Houghton Mifflin immediately. So Fahey did. And not too long after that, James Fahey was the proud author of the bestseller, *Pacific War Diary, 1942-1945.*

Fahey received many awards for his book. In November 1963, he received a resolution from the city of Waltham (Massachusetts). In 1964, Fahey was recognized as the national "Garbage Man of the Year". He was also given the opportunity to meet President John F. Kennedy the previous year and give him a copy of his book. (A photo of Fahey with President Kennedy can be seen at The Waltham Museum.) Fahey also gave his book to Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, as well as Robert Kennedy.

Although he received many awards, what distinguishes Fahey the most is what he did with his profits. He sent all his earnings to a priest, Fr. Michael, in India. Fr. Michael used the money to build a church. But, what was built in India was not a church. With all the money James sent, Fr. Michael was able to build a cathedral. The people of India, Fr. Michael included, were extremely grateful. Fr. Michael referred to James as "the man with the golden heart."

In 1991, James J. Fahey died of radiation poisoning. He was 73 years old. He was survived by his wife Adele. 

Pacific War Diary - The Secret Diary of an American Sailor

Throughout the World War II campaign in the Pacific, an ordinary seaman defied navy regulations by surreptitiously compiling a diary on scraps of paper. One of the most extraordinary personal documents to emerge from the war, James J. Fahey's diary presents a vivid picture of an average sailor's daily life -- from the first experience of battle in the waters surrounding the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to the typhoons and food shortages to the final desperate attacks by kamikaze pilots and Japanese suicide ships near Okinawa. Goodreads

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