James Franklin Voorhies was born in Bakersfield, California, on 3 December 1913, son of John Wilbur and Marcia (Fee) Voorhies. He attended Bakersfield Junior College for one and one half years and Santa Barbara (California) State College for two years. In November 1936 he was appointed Aviation Cadet (Class 96-C) in the US Naval Reserve and thereafter had flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Designated Naval Aviator and commissioned Ensign to date from 1 December 1937 through subsequent promotions and his transfer to the US Navy, he attained the rank of Captain to date from 1 July 1956.
After receiving his commission in 1937 he had consecutive duty with Patrol Squadrons ELEVEN and FIFTY-FOUR. He was assigned in September 1940 to Patrol Squadron FIFTY-SIX and in July 1941 transferred to Patrol Squadron SEVENTY-FOUR. He was attached to the latter when the United States entered World War II, 8 December 1941 and participated in antisubmarine patrols in the Atlantic.
“For meritorious achievement…in operations against enemy forces in the North Atlantic War Area during the winter of 1941 and 1942…” he was awarded the Air Medal. The citation further states: “Completing numerous anti-submarine and convoy coverage flights in the face of constant hazards of ice, low visibility, blizzards and high winds, (he) contributed materially to the success of his squadron in providing protection to valuable convoys traversing that area…”
He is also entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of the Navy Unit Commendation awarded Patrol Bombing Squadron SEVENTY-FOUR. The citation follows: “For outstanding heroism during operations against enemy forces in Atlantic Waters, from June 7, 1942 to July 31, 1943. Undaunted by the perils of weather and sea conditions and the ever present danger of being forced down in the broad expanses of the Atlantic Ocean while fulfilling an extremely vital assignment in connection with anti-submarine warfare, Patrol Bombing Squadron SEVENTY-FOUR compiled an imposing record in the sighting of 29 hostile submarines, in attacking 16, in destroying 5 and in inflicting damage upon two others. Individually courageous and operating as a smoothly functioning team, its pilots and aircrewmen effected numerous hazardous open-sea landings to rescue 220 stranded airmen and mariners, and in addition, dropped supplies to survivors of merchant disasters and directed surface craft to their rescue. The outstanding record of service and combat achievement attained by this gallant fighting unit contributed notably to the Allied success in crushing the U-boat menace…”
In September 1943 he joined the Anti-submarine Development Detachment, Atlantic Fleet to serve as Assistant Operations Officer (later Operations Officer) until April 1945. He next had refresher training in PBM type aircraft at the Naval Air Station, Banana River, Florida, and brief duty with Patrol Bombing Squadron NINETY-NINE. In November 1945 he assumed command of Patrol Bombing Squadron TWENY-SEVEN, operating in the Pacific area. From July 1946 until July 1947 he was a student at the General Line School, Newport, Rhode Island, after which he had duty afloat as Executive Officer and Navigator of the seaplane tender Greenwich Bay.
During January 1949 he had instruction at the US Army Indoctrination Center, Big Delta, Alaska, and in March of that year reported as War Plans Officer in the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, DC. He remained there until February 1951 and after an assignment which extended to March 1953, as Operations Officer with Fleet Air Wing ELEVEN, based at Jacksonville, Florida, he became Executive Officer of the Naval Air Station, Johnsville, Pennsylvania.
In June 1955 he reported as Chief Staff Officer to Commander Fleet Logistic Air Wing, Pacific and in August 1957 became Head of the Air Traffic Control and Air Navigational Aids Branch, Fleet Service Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. In April 1959 he was ordered to duty as Commanding Officer of Air Transport Squadron THREE.
In addition to the Air Medal and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Captain Voorhies has the American Defense Service Medal with Bronze “A”; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.