James Hunnicutt
James Hunnicutt

James Hunnicutt

AFRH-W Resident Highlight – James Hunnicutt

By Christine Baldwin | Librarian

James Hunnicutt was born in Georgia. He graduated from high school and had the choice of going to work or being drafted. Since he had been in the ROTC (and had to wear a tie), at the age of 17, James decided to join the U.S. Navy (which lower ranks had open neck uniforms). After basic training and A school in San Diego, California, he volunteered for submarines and was sent to submarine school in New London, Connecticut. James wanted to go on nuclear subs on the East Coast, but ended up on the third oldest submarine in Hawaii. One story he tells is when they were on a North Alaska special ops mission and the snorkel valve stayed open. Thirty-one degree salt water started pouring into the engine room and they started sinking stern first. Fortunately, they were able to close the valve.  Another episode happened in Hawaii at the Kaho’olawe bomb cliffs. The first class torpedo man wanted to see his work. So after the shot, he was allowed to go to the periscope to watch. But the “war shot” made a 180 degree turn and James, only 18 at the time, heard the whiz going by and thankfully missing them. James spent his first ten years aboard diesel subs.

After marriage to an Irish woman, James spent less time on subs and more on shore assignments in Japan, Hawaii and his last two years in Scotland. After being told that he was going to shore duty in the states, James decided to retire after 24 years and obtaining the rank of master chief. As a civilian, he went to Hawaii at the submarine training center. But even as a GS-11, it was very expensive to live there, so he went to Pensacola, Florida, bought a new house, and got two degrees; one in accounting and one in management information systems. James then went to work for DFAS. When his wife passed away, James stayed in the home for another five years. He is good friends with resident Warren Pospisil, who told him about AFRH-W and he came here in 2015. When you look at the Hall of Honor in October, you will see his uniform on display.