James A. Litchford, Sr. (age 91) of Montvale Virginia passed away peacefully under the loving care of the Virginia Veterans Care Center located in Roanoke, Virginia early Thursday morning on December 10th. James â€œJimâ€ Litchford was born Nov. 22, 1924 on L.E. Phillips (Phillips 66) Ranch in Washington County, Oklahoma, to the late John Jefferson Litchford and Anna Ruth Howell Litchford. He grew up around Bartlesville, Oklahoma and later moved to Phillips, Texas where he graduated from Phillipâ€™s High School in 1942. Because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941 Jimâ€™s life turned from a career in groceries to that of a full time soldier. After graduation he enlisted into the Army Air Force (AAF) and served his country as a Flight Engineer with the 305th Bomb Group, 422nd Squadron based in Chelveston, England. He flew 35 bombing missions as a top turret gunner on the B-17G â€œFlying Fortressâ€. On one of these missions, flak exploded over his aircraft destroying the top turret he was in,forcing the plane to crash land in Belgium. He was captured by German soldiers but was later freed by his tail gunner Norman W. Auger. They both made their way back to friendly territory to once again continue their missions. TSgt James Litchford was honorably discharged on June 12, 1945. He was awarded several distinguished medals most notably the Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters for Meritorious achievement while participation in sustained bomber combat operations over Germany and occupied countries. Returning to his home town, Phillips at age 20, Jim would often chuckle and tell the story that he was old enough to serve his country and fight overseas, but in Texas was considered too young to vote or buy beer. As Jim returned to civilian life he engaged in his passions and trade. His love of golf was clearly present with many trophies and an offer to go professional. He was anavid bowler and loved softball. Jim found himself back in the grocery business where he would meet his future bride, Jackie Snyder. They were married on Aug. 18, 1946. Jimâ€™s career returned to his family roots and he began working for Phillips Petroleum. He retired after 42 years of service with Phillips Petroleum, having held several positions the last being a Terminal Supervisor in Montvale Virginia. Jim was active in all facets of life, from family and church to civic leadership. Some of his accomplishments involved being a founding member for the Blue Ridge Lionâ€™s Club. Jim was a 32nd degree Mason and member of the Unity Lodge #1242 Borger, Texasfor over 55 years. Jim served as an Asst. Scoutmaster for Boy Scouts Troop 136 for many years, completed the Wood Badge training and was a Brotherhood Member of the Order of the Arrow. Jim was a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Montvale. Few things brought him more joy that his love for his three children, nine grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. He was a generous and loving Grandfather and would introduce himself to all children as â€œGrandpaâ€. For over 50 years he portrayed Santa Claus to area children and elderly bringing all joy. Jim was preceded in death by Jackie his wife of 37 years in 1983. He was blessed to have 10 more years of marriage to the lovely Helen Kelley Litchford who passed on in 1996. During retirement, Jim would continue his adventures traveling throughout the U.S. visiting family, friends and attending WWII reunionevents. He really enjoyed the friends he made at the 8th Air Force Fellowship Roanoke and attended special events whenever possible. Jim is survived by three sisters: Mrs. Roy (Shirley) Wood; Mrs. Norma Woods and Mrs. Kenny (Carol) Roark. He is survived by one son and two daughters: James A Litchford Jr. and wife Leonetta; Mrs. Derryl (Kaye) DeShields; Mrs. Harlan (Charlotte) Guynes. Memorials may be made to Roanoke 8th Air Force Fellowship, 6227 Mount Chestnut Rd., Roanoke, VA 24018. www.roanoke8thairforce.com/#!donationsdues/cyme Visitation will be Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, from 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 8 pm. at Oakeyâ€™s Funeral Service, 5188 Cloverdale Road, Roanoke. Funeral service will be Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, at 10 am at the funeral home. Pastor Bill Mitchell, Pastor Larry Ross will officiate. Burial will be at Glade Creek Cemetery. Military Honors provided by Seymour Johnson AFB. Honor Guard. Arrangements by Oakeyâ€™s Funeral Service, Roanoke, VA, 540-977-3909.
Oakey’s East Chapel
5188 Cloverdale Road
Roanoke, VA 24019
Published in Bedford Bulletin from Dec. 16 to Dec. 17, 2015