James Burliss was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1923. After high school, James became an auto mechanic. In April 1943, James was working for a garage when he was drafted.

James fought in Italy, France, and Germany. He was wounded in battle in Anzio, Italy and received a Purple Heart. James received several other medals. James fought in the historic Battle of the Bulge.

On April 29, 1945, James and his regiment liberated Dachau. Upon their arrival, they saw many train cars stuffed with dead bodies. There were piles of corpses littering the ground. Thankfully, some prisoners were still alive, despite their emaciation. James took pictures at Dachau of this horrific scene. After, James drove a survivor truck to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. Some prisoners, weak with starvation, struggled to get into the truck.

James returned to the United States in 1945 as a corporal. James married and had four children.

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