WWII Veterans Remembered: U-Haul Honors Idaho’s Ansley James “Jim” Simer

Pacific Theater veteran and Salmon native Jim Simer will be memorialized in the lobby of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower at Pearl Harbor

U-Haul® was born as World War II was coming to a close, with its first one-way trailers made available to the moving public on or about July 4, 1945.

Jim Simer, center, with fellow troops, circa 1946

Just as U-Haul is celebrating 75 years of service this year, America will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-J Day. This signifies Victory over Japan and is observed Sept. 2 when the signing of surrender occurred, effectively ending WWII.

Veterans such as Salmon native Ansley James “Jim” Simer returned home to start a new life after the war, and in doing so planted the seeds of prosperity for U-Haul, a product of the peace for which they fought.

WWII-era Navy veteran L.S. “Sam” Shoen and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen, conceived U-Haul in June 1945 when they recognized a basic need while moving up the West Coast, having left behind most of their belongings since one-way trailer rentals did not yet exist. From that idea, an industry was created and a new level of mobility became attainable for every American family.

New Display at Pearl Harbor

Today, U-Haul is committed to honoring veterans and supporting veteran causes. This is accomplished through recruiting veterans and giving them hiring preference; direct assistance to veteran groups; participation and sponsorship of Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades; and supporting Pearl Harbor tributes.

The Company’s 75th anniversary tributes will peak triumphantly with the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s dedication of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower on Aug. 29. U-Haul Pacific Theater veterans’ bios and photos will be displayed in the tower lobby. Simer will be among those memorialized on the lobby wall.

The tower will showcase a new elevator, gifted by U-Haul CEO Joe Shoen, providing public access to the observation deck where America’s lone WWII aviation battlefield can be revered and our heroes remembered.

Military and U-Haul Service

Simer was born in March 1926 near Salmon, Idaho, to Burt and Emma Simer. He was one of 11 children. His father was a prospector who supported the family during the Great Depression by placer mining for gold.

In 1940, the family moved to Portland, Ore. By the time he was 14, Simer was going to school during the day and working in the Portland shipyards as a welder at night.

Jim Simer, circa 2006

Simer joined the Army in September 1944. He served as a combat infantryman with the 41st Infantry Division. Nicknamed the “Jungleers,” the 41st participated in the New Guinea, Southern Philippines and Papuan campaigns. Simer’s unit fought in the Leyte and Luzon campaigns to liberate the Philippines.

As the first scout for his platoon, Simer was injured in the Battle of Luzon and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor. He also received the Philippine Liberation Medal (one bronze star), the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal and the Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged in November 1946.

After the war, Simer worked on a large wheat farm in Oregon for several years before returning to the shipyards. In 1960, he joined U-Haul as an area field manager, servicing U-Haul dealerships in Eastern Oregon. Simer joined the crew at the Southgate Rental Equipment Repair Shop as a trailer repairman in 1969. He became lead repairman in 1971, and in 1977, Simer assumed the role of repair shop president. He held that position until his retirement in 1988.

Simer passed away in 2013.

Veteran Ties and Appreciation

The Shoens started U-Haul upon Sam’s discharge with $4,000 of accumulated Navy pay and the courage formed by the cauldron of WWII. With the help of other veterans, the young couple forged their new enterprise from the freedom that victory produced.

Today, U-Haul serves all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces, helping millions of families move every year. Simer is one of the many veterans who laid the foundation for the present prosperity U-Haul enjoys.

U-Haul is one of a myriad of companies built by these incredible veterans, who are to be saluted and remembered during this 75th anniversary celebration. Thank you, Jim.

Find more veteran tributes in the History and Culture section of myuhaulstory.com.

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