Jim passed away peacefully in his sleep at home on November 24, 2014. He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Anne Burmester.
Born is Detroit, Michigan on January 10, 1920, the son of Nicholas Vlahake Landis, a World War I veteran and Maria Rizan, a French national, Jim was raided in a Catholic Seminary in the Pyrenees Mountains of Southern France until he was 13 years old. He returned to the United States to graduate from Jackson High School in Jackson, MI. He completed two years of college before joining the US Navy in December of 1939.
Jim Landis – Pearl Harbor Survivor
After being wounded during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, he received the first of three Purple Hearts. He continued to serve on the old USS Lexington (CV-2) aircraft carrier until its sinking on May 8, 1942 during the battle of the Coral Sea. Other assignments included Guadalcanal in 1943, the Black Cat Squadron, and flying the Bob Hope entertainment troop, where he met the love of his life, Anne. He said, “The first time I met her I just melted. We were on tour for two weeks. When we got back, we went to Tijuana and got married.”
His entire Navy career was in aviation in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He served on several aircraft carriers to include the USS Mindoro (CVE-120), USS Saratoga (CVA-60), and the USS Independence (CVA-62), and later, a four year assignment with his family working out of Thailand aerial mapping SE Asia.
Jim Landis retired at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in 1970 with 30 years in the Navy, followed by a successful career in real estate.
He was a member of the national and local Pearl Harbor Survivors Associations. An airplane he flew in during the war is on display at the National Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. He reminded us, “When we’re all dead and gone, this plane, #2106, will still be a Pearl Harbor Survivor.”
The SBD, a dive bomber, has it’s own history. Assigned to the USS Lexington (CV-2) until the Lex sunk, it was transferred to the USS Yorktown (CV-10), which was also sunk at the battle of Midway Island. Somehow it made it’s way stateside to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center where it was used as a trainer. It crashed into Lake Michigan and remained under water for 50 years. Discovered, retrieved and restored at Naval Aviation Museum, it a memorial to all World War II veterans as well as to Jim. “I flew in this very plane, it’s in my flight log book,” Jim said.
Jim will be missed but not forgotten.