James Fahey grew up in Waltham, Massachusetts, the youngest of four orphaned children. Two of his brothers, John and Joe, had been in the Navy at Pearl Harbor and had survived. James signed on the following year and became a seaman first class aboard the USS Montpelier. He hoped to see action, and as a member of a gun crew, he was not disappointed. The Montpelier shot down Japanese planes and sank Japanese ships off Guadalcanal, bombarded the Japanese defenses at Munda, and survived two torpedo hits and an enemy bomb off Bougainville. The ship also covered landings at Mindoro, Luzon, Corregidor, Palawan, Mindanao and Borneo. Throughout the more than three years he spent aboard, Fahey wrote regularly in a journal that he kept against navy regulations.
After the war, he returned to Waltham and became a truck driver for the town’s sanitation department. His diary was turned into a book, Pacific War Diary, and was published in 1991. Fahey donated all his earnings to the construction of a cathedral in southern India, where a crowd of 100,000 people greeted him at its dedication. James Fahey’s voice is read by Robert Wahlberg.