James Holloway, III was born in Charleston, South Carolina on 23 February 1922, the son of Lieutenant (Junior Grade) James L. Holloway, Jr. who later became a full admiral. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1943. graduated in June 1942 as a member of the first three-year class accelerated by World War II. He was gunnery officer of the Bennion when, at the Battle of Surigao Strait, it took part in a night torpedo attack which sank the Japanese battleship Yamashiro, assisted in the destruction of the destroyer Asagumo, attacked the cruiser Mogami with torpedoes, and then the following day shot down two Japanese Zeroes at short range. For this service, he received the Bronze Star Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal.
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