James Lee Abraham

November 19, 1939July 15, 2018
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James Lee Abraham was born to the union of the late Thomas and Addie Abraham in Gresham, South Carolina on Nov 19, 1939. James is the 5th oldest of 8 siblings. He was baptized and grew up in St Paul Church. James was personable, loving and never met a person he could not or would not talk to. Always, strong and stoic in nature.

Growing up on the farm, his parents instilled in him hard work, discipline, education, and above all else, God. He attended Terrell’s Bay High School where he excelled in basketball under the keen tutelage of Coach Taft Watson, Montford Point Marine, whom many of the family knows as being inspirational to James’ desire to pursue service in the Marine Corps.

James put service before self. He served in the Marine Corps for 30 years, from 1960 to 1990 and was a highly decorated combat veteran having been awarded prestigious individual and numerous commendation and achievement medals across his distinguished career. During his tour as part of the security force in Sasebo, Japan from 1963-1966, he met Misako Matsuo, in October 1964. On November 10, 1964 he took her to the Marine Corps Ball and they were inseparable ever since as best friends. James married Misako on December 16, 1966 and came to the United States in February 1967.

James was stationed at Quantico, VA, but due to the laws at that time, he and Misako could not live in Virginia. He, Misako, and their oldest son, Danny lived in Baltimore, MD with James' oldest sister Ida Mae Reaves and her family for two years. James deployed to the Vietnam War, where he was a platoon sergeant. After countless missions and within days of his year-long tour being over, he was wounded - shot in the chest during a fire fight, and was later awarded the Purple Heart.

After his recovery, he was sent to Drill Instructor (DI) School, and trained young men to be Marines from 1969-1972. He later transferred to Camp Pendleton, then to Kansas University as the ROTC, Marine Corps, Staff NCOIC, and also attained an Associates Degree in Socialogy during this time. The family transferred to Hawaii for several years and then back to California, this time a little north, in Orange County. James was stationed at VMFA 314 “Black Knights” and MAG-46. In 1988 he became the Base Sgt Maj of Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, CA, where he retired from service in Aug 1990.

With a passion to continue to serve, he taught in the Orange County School district with mentally and physical challenged children and young adults for 12 years. He fully retired in 2009 at the age of 70. James and Misako kept their affiliation, until this day, with the Marine Corps and military service, attending most every reunion, celebration, or meeting with the Sasebo Marines, Black Marines, Marine Corps Balls, VA, Wounded Warriors, and many more. James had a passion for golf. He played out of his home course of El Toro, MCAS Golf Course, but he and his countless friends played all over Southern California and throughout the U.S. Other than God, what he loved more than golf, was his family. His immediate family, extended family, Marine Corps family, VA family, golf family, and family of friends. James is survived by his wife, Misako Abraham; sisters Ida Mae Reaves, Ruth Philips and preceded in death by Onnie Bell Wallace; brothers Henry Abraham, Cicero Abraham and preceded in death by Wilbur Abraham and Cleo Abraham; children Danny Abraham (Tamiko) and Craig Abraham (Chon); grandchildren Cato, Kaleia, Kaniko, Dana, Danae, and Deana Abraham; Aunt Doll; nieces; nephews; and cousins. Whether you called him Honey, Dad, Grandpa, James Lee, Jim, Abe, or Sergeant Major, he did for you before himself. Thank you for your service to God, country, family and friends. Your legacy lives on in all of us.


  • Visitation Saturday, July 21, 2018
  • Funeral Service with Military Honors Sunday, July 22, 2018
  • Reception following Services Sunday, July 22, 2018

James Lee Abraham

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Jason Abraham

July 23, 2018

To know my Uncle James Lee is to know what being in the presence of excellence is. As a child I would stare at him in awe with how disciplined he was. But what made me the most impressed with him was his kindness and sincerity. I often judge people with how they make me feel when I leave them. Whenever I would leave my Uncle I always felt a sense of greatness. He truly is one of the best men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and to call him family is like a badge of pride for me. When people say he was so giving of himself, they are truly understating the depth of his generosity. Sit with one of his sons and you will have a better understanding of the man that he was. If there is one regret I have, it is that I didn’t speak to him more often. But his memory will forever live in my heart. He was a Marine to some. Grandfather to others. But to me, he will always be Uncle James Lee.....And that is enough for me.

Forever His Nephew.

Cheryl Graham

July 22, 2018

This is in behalf of the Davis Family, the late Herbert and Golda Davis and children of Gresham, SC. James Lee as we called him never, ever forgot the rural community or the families. We had a death in the family in 2017 and he offered his support to us at that time. We are praying for comfort, peace, and blessings to Misako, his sons, sisters, and other family at this time.
Semper Fidelis!
Juanita Paige, Roberta Corey, Herbert Davis, Jr., Bill Davis,Guy Davis, and Cheryl Graham.
1924 S Highway 501
Marion, SC 29571

Robert O'Neill

July 21, 2018

I served as his company commander of Company G ,2nd Bn 7th Marines in Vietnam from Jan-Jul 1968 and have very positive memories of his service as 2nd Platoon Sergeant.He was an outstanding Marine and superb leader of Marines.Semper Fi to you Sergeant Major.

Mark Elder

July 21, 2018

I first met Jim in October, 1969 at MCRD, San Diego. I was a raw recruit from St. Louis, MO and you could say his early introduction was not all that cordial! I was in Platoon 1187 and we were one of Jim’s first platoons as a Drill Instructor. He and his DI partner, Fred Gil were hard, but fair. They worked tirelessly to teach us to be Marines. Many thanks to Jim and Fred.
Over the years some of the members of 1187 would gather and have a reunion. Jim and Fred were always fondly discussed. Story after story was told and retold. Then in 1999, 30 years after we graduated one of the guys said, why don’t we track them down. We all laughed but Terry Miller started searching. He found the Drill Instructor’s Association in San Diego, got contact information and called them.
Several of us flew to San Diego and reunited with Jim and Fred at MCRD. I remember thinking as Jim walked across the parade deck, “He hasn’t changed a bit!” After a few minutes it was as though we were long, lost friends. I kept calling him “Sgt Abraham”. I couldn’t conceive of calling him Jim! After awhile he said, “Call me Abe…..”
Over the years we saw each other occasionally. We talked on the phone or emailed each other. Both Jim and Fred have attended our gatherings here in St. Louis and we’ve made trips out to San Diego. To me Jim will always be in my thoughts. He was a tough task master, a great teacher and then he was a friend.
I will miss him terribly. He was one of those few people who had a direct impact on my life. Not many days go by when I don’t think of him. We had become friends and of course, all Marines are brothers. Semper FI, Marine, friend and brother.

Mark M. Elder

Members of Platoon 1187: You and Fred Gil made us Marines and better people. We are eternally grateful. Semper Fidelis. T. E. Miller, R. Dauphin, R. Deluca, M. Elder, R. Head, J. Heath, C. Huffman, F. McGruder, F. Schleuter, the late M. Simer, R. Yount.

Catherynne Whitmore

July 20, 2018

Uncle James Lee was more of a surrogate grandfather than an uncle. I lost my grandfather, Cleo Abraham ( Uncle James Lee’s brother) at a very young age. However, I never felt a void because of my Uncle presence, guidance, and love. He always mentioned amusing and inspiring stories of my Grandaddy when we would talk.

Uncle James Lee led a life worth emulating. He served his country with great valor. Yet, balanced his duty with an unwavering support to his family. He had a very special way of ensuring every person he encountered felt seen and respected. My deepest hope is to model my life after my Uncle and now my guardian angel.

May he forever Rest In Peace & Power with the Lord.


Margaret Aka Aunt Doll Derron

July 20, 2018

To The Family of James I Aunt Doll will miss him He Call Me Every Month Love you All Sorry I couldn’t be there Much Love My prayers And Condolences Aunt Doll .

Mildred Riggins

July 20, 2018

James Lee was a person That I Enjoyed Talking To would Call me Every week.Encouraging me . Sorry Aunt Doll and I cannot be There Praying for The Family!

Allie W Clyde

July 17, 2018

To explain into words what my Uncle James Lee means to me would do no justice. However, what I can say is that I know he was at peace. We had multiple conversations and prayers and I will never forget when he said, "My wife has been a God-send. She has taken such good care of me.". My aunt and uncle's love has been something they write about in the movies, steadfast, genuine, and everlasting. My cousins Danny and Craig have always been the best example of living a life of integrity and honor. Over the years I have gained so much wisdom and advice from my Uncle James Lee. I have emails where he gave me advice about what books to read to invest and he coached me into selling my first property a month before he passed. He is my angel and best friend. I am mainly heartbroken that my husband and son will never meet one of the most amazing men that ever lived. He stepped in as a grandfather when I lost my own, taught me about family history, and told me never to give up...keep on fighting!