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James Robert Blue of Dunn, a retired U.S. Postal Service worker and World War II veteran, died Friday at his home. He was 84.

Blue served as a master sergeant in the Army for 22 years in the 82nd Airborne division and participated in the Normandy invasion of World War II. He was also curator for the 82nd Airborne Museum at Fort Bragg and the Gen. William C. Lee Museum in Dunn.

Blue's daughter, Sharon Adams, said her father was a dedicated military and family man. "Oh, my daddy. He was so dedicated to his family and his country," she said. "He did everything 100 percent. He was a soldier's soldier."

One of the lasting remnants of his service was his gait. Adams said people would comment on how straight he held himself as he walked. He had a profound love of war history. Adams said her father reveled in every opportunity to educate people about it.

"He was a walking history book. There was a wealth of knowledge in him," she said.

Blue's son, Ronnie, said his father joined the 82nd Airborne because as a young boy he was inspired by Gen. William C. Lee. Lee, a native of Dunn, was the first commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, the "Screaming Eagles." "Some of the first paratroopers came to Dunn on an exhibition, and General Lee was his boyhood hero," Ronnie Blue said. "He joined the airborne and he was just all airborne, all the way. That was his life."

After retiring from the Army in 1965, Blue became a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. Adams said her father wanted a job in which he could be active and meet people.

"I think he loved that job because he would get close to the people on his route," she said. "He was very meticulous. That mail had to be delivered, and it had to be right."

When Blue wasn't working, he was gardening -- collard greens, peas, corn, tomatoes. He grew vegetables for 20 years in a garden at the side of his house, a garden he tilled by hand.

"He grew up on the farm. He just liked the land, working in the dirt," Adams said. "He grew up poor, and they had to grow their own food to eat. He took much pride in his garden."

In addition to son Ronnie of Dunn and daughter Sharon of Garner, he is survived by his wife, Doris F. Blue of Dunn; a sister, Mabel Herring of Florida; and two grandchildren.

A graveside service will take place today at 11 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park in Dunn.

Memorials may be made to the Gen. William C. Lee Airborne Museum, 209 W. Divine St., Dunn, N.C. 28334.

(The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC, 17 May 2004, Page B7 - courtesy of Tedd Cocker)

(courtesy of Katie McKinney)

Grave marker for James R. Blue in the Dunn Memorial Gardens, Dunn (Harnett County), North Carolina.

James enlisted at Ft. Bragg, NC and volunteered for parachutist duty.  He was assigned to Company A,508th PIR.

Pfc Blue participated in the invasion of Normandy and was promoted to Cpl on 1 October 1944.

Cpl Blue was wounded in action on 30 December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.  On 24 March 1945 he was transferred from the field hospital to the 6900 Reinforcement Depot.  On 9 May 1945 he managed to get reassigned to the 508th and rejoined Company A where he remained until the regiment was deactivated in the fall of 1945.

Movie Star?

The movie "Airborne" (1962) featured MSgt James Blue in a cameo appearance.  See him at 1 hour and 9 minutes in during a tour of the 82nd Museum on Fort Bragg...

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