James W. O’Rourke Jr. was born on
December 1, 1911 in Camden, New York. The parents
were James W. O’Rourke Sr. and Nellie O’Rourke.
James had one brother Joseph and grew up with his
cousins. O’Rourke was a devout Catholic and belonged
to St. John the Evangelist Church in the heart of
O’Rourke was drafted into the U.S. Army and joined
of May 25, 1942.
After completing his Basic Training, O’Rourke was
sent to Fort Benning, Georgia and joined the 507th
Parachute Infantry Regiment of September 4, 1942.
Private James W. O’Rourke Jr. was assigned and
Company F along with a total of 140 soldiers.
January 20, 1943 saw O’Rourke transferred to Service
Company and would receive his Jump Wings.
Private O’Rourke was promoted to Technician 5th
Grade and became the Dentist’s assistant, working
Captain John B. Long.
Technician 5th Grade O’Rourke also became the
Catholic Chaplin assistant for
Captain John J.
O’Rourke went overseas in December of 1943 with the
507th Parachute Infantry to England.
May 19, 1944 Technician 5th Grade O’Rourke was
transferred from Service Company to the
duties remained the same.
On June 5, 1944 O’Rourke and the rest of the 507th
Parachute Infantry Regiment flew into history. The
507th Parachute Infantry was the last one into
Normandy at 02:32 Hours
Technician 5th Grade
O’Rourke was injured on the
Jump breaking his right foot.
He was taken to the
4th Infantry Division’s Aid
Station on Utah Beach on June 7, 1944.
O’Rourke along with 20 wounded Paratroopers and
Infantry men were placed on to a Landing Craft (the
ones that carried in the Infantry men on June 6,
1944 onto Omaha and Utah Beach). These wounded
soldiers were being taken to a Hospital Ship, but
before they reached their destination they hit a
landmine killing all the men aboard including the
Technician 5th Grade James W.
O’Rourke Jr. was killed on June 7, 1944 in the Bay
of Seine, France off of the coast of Normandy.
During the beginning of the second week of July 1944
some of those men were found far out to sea. One of
those men was O’Rourke. His body was identified by
his dog tags. Like the Navy Sailors, Technician 5th
Grade O’Rourke was buried at sea July 10, 1944. The
paperwork was then forwarded ahead to the
Quartermaster Graves Registration Company and then
to the British in England.
O’Rourke’s effects were found on his body and were
sent ahead to the 605th Quartermaster Graves
Registration on August 12, 1944 from the Naval
Officer-In- Charge, Isle of Wight, R.N.
Establishment, Isle of Wight. At this point the
Army decided that they did not receive the
information about the burial of James O’Rourke.
The U.S. Army
never informed the parent’s of his
death, instead told them that James O’Rourke Jr. was
Missing in Action and never told them what they
Only on May 29, 2011 was a family
member told about the death of James W. O’Rourke Jr.
I was able to contact James O’Rourke (his second
cousin with the same name) and told him that his
cousin had in fact been Killed in Action, not
Missing in Action. James W.
placed a Headstone in his memory after WWII at St.
John the Evangelist Church in Camden, New York.
May 29, 2011