The Smiley's came from Kansas during the depression. James worked as foreman on various ranches in Northern San Luis Obispo County. When the war started he and his brother Clifford went to work on the breakwater. They were a fearless duo and worked as "powder monkey's" (a term not often used today that dates from 1682, meaning one who has charge of exposivies.) His demise wasn't the direct result of an explosion, but due to a previous one. James lived in Atascadero at the time of his death.
The funeral for James was one of the largest in Atascadero's history. James was a very well liked person and people lined the streets for his funeral procession