James “Jimmy” Jay Ley was born in Algona, Iowa in 1922. He grew up in Lakota, Iowa and participated in Boy Scouts and basketball. After graduating from Lakota High School in 1940, Ley attended Grinnell College for two years. Ley did not complete his studies at Grinnell because he enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942. Ley completed basic training at Sheppard Field, Texas. He was additionally stationed and trained at bomber-engineer school in Baltimore, Maryland; gunnery school in Buckingham Field, Fort Myers, Florida; and combat service and flight engineer school in Barksdale Filed, Shreveport, Louisiana. Ley was sent to England in 1943. He completed twenty-one missions over Europe as an engineer gunner on a bomber in the 451st Bombardment Squadron. In 1944, Ley was reported missing in action over Abbeville, France. His death was confirmed in 1945. In 1949, his body was found in an unmarked civilian grave in France and returned to his family in Lakota for burial. Ley was awarded the air medal, two oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart.