The Story of a Veteran: James Noland details a career of service
A storied past.
Sen. James (Jim) Noland is 93. His list of accomplishments is long, all documented in dozens of photos adorning his Osage Beach home, neatly arranged on walls or on desktops, display cases and tabletops, and even on the floor.
His family is the centerpiece of his pictures. His late wife, Janice, was the love of his life and a Camden County Associate Circuit Judge. She was well-known in Republican lore locally, statewide and nationally.
Janice bore her husband three daughters, all of whom are attorneys. Today, the family has blossomed to 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Senator Noland recalls his life in great detail including numerous stories from his days as both a Missouri state representative and senator. His political interests weren’t confined to those offices as he worked tirelessly for his political party, and even ran for lieutenant governor and U.S. Congress. He also served as Camden County collector.
The Macks Creek High School graduate was drafted into the service at 18 years old. Senator Noland had three brothers who served in World War II as well and he competitively says today “I wanted to prove I could do anything they could do.”
After completing basic training at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark., he was shipped to a “cold, cold, cold” Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts.
During his tenure in the service he had duty in the Philippines, but was involved in keeping an eye on prisoners while he was stationed at Camp Robinson.
“I was assigned KP duty one time and escorted German prisoners to the cook shack. One of the prisoners who could speak English threatened to change clothes with me and I would then be the prisoner that day,” he recalled. “I was so scared I got my carbine (rifle) out and then they were more scared than I was.”
He wound up in the Philippines where in 1945 the “Japs” had taken control of the island. Eventually, the Japanese retreated into the mountains. The “hucks” would sneak into camp at night to steal supplies and gasoline for their vehicles.
Once, Senator Noland was placed on guard duty and given a password. He was told that if he heard anything or saw anything he was to shoot in the direction of the sound if the person he heard didn’t repeat the password.
“Suddenly, I heard a stick break. I was so scared and cold. I yelled out and got the password or that soldier would have been dead. When I look back on it, my life has been orchestrated by God’s blessings. My life didn’t happen by happenstance.”
“They were a vicious enemy,” Senator Noland recalled. “They would behead whoever they caught.”
Senator Noland knows Death came knocking at his door more than once.
A ship he was on was making its way through mine-infested waters during a severe storm.
“The ship was tossing around out of control in the storm and we somehow made it through unscathed,” he said.
Another time he and a warrant officer were charged with protecting radar equipment in a warehouse.
“Those thugs would steal anything,” Senator Noland said of the Japanese.
The enemy got within 100 yards of the warehouse in the dark before moving on into the night.
Spared once again.
And yet another time his Jeep was at the tail end of a convoy going into Manilla. Because the Americans were afraid of being attacked they drove without lights. The dust was so think they couldn’t see.
“I don’t know how, but God got us through,” he said.
Senator Noland didn’t escape his service completely unharmed.
He was heading home on a ship to be discharged and was helping a crewman carry a tub of meat up a ladder out of hold on the ship.
“He turned it loose on me and it knocked me down to the floor and the fall broke my back,” he said.
It took about 30 days to get home and, thankfully, his injuries weren’t severe – but they were debilitating.
In all, his service to his country brought him malaria, an ulcer and the broken back. At the insistence of someone in the Veterans Administration he applied for disability but was denied. He moved on with his life and began teaching, but the pain from his injury plagued him continuously.
“My back was worse than ever in 2012, so I filed again for disability,” Senator Noland said.
He received 30 percent disability for hearing loss but nothing for his painful back.
About the same time, his middle daughter, Cynthia, was the Republican National Committeewoman for state of Virginia. Because of her position, she had a connection to Don Trump, Jr. She shared her dad’s plight with him and he apparently listened. Soon after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016,
Senator Noland learned that he would receive 100 percent disability for both his hearing and his back.
The rest of the story
After returning home, Senator Noland attended Southwest Missouri State University, Lincoln University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, a Master’s degree in Public School Administration, and later a PhD in Education. Senator Noland began teaching at various schools in the Camden County area and eventually rose to the positions of principal and superintendent. He also became a professor of psychology at Central Methodist College in Fayette.
In 1956, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives where he served four terms from 1957 to 1959, and from 1963 to 1969. During that break in the Missouri Legislature, he served as Camden County Collector.
In 1968 and 1972, Senator Noland was elected state senator for the 33rd Senate District. At one time he had family law offices Highways 54 and Route 5 in Camdenton.
Senator Noland’s youngest daughter, Cecilia, is an attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice in Nashville, Tenn.; middle daughter Cynthia practices law in Lynchburg, Va.; and oldest daughter Claire is an attorney in Less Summit, Mo.
All three are Camdenton High School graduates.
His late wife, Janice, died in 2017.