James E and Lizzie Guill moved from Roanoke to Alexandria about 1931 hoping to escape the great depression. They brought with them a son James D, born in April 1920, a younger son Howard, born 1925 and a daughter Frances born 1926. They first moved to Glebe Road near Mt Vernon Avenue and then, in 1935, to 103 Hume Avenue, where JD spent his later teen years and early 20s. He left GWHS after his sophomore year to train as a diesel mechanic and worked in that role for Phillips Machinery on US1 in Arlington. He registered for the draft on 1 July 1941, but in December his father passed away from a heart attack, leaving JD as the sole breadwinner, and thus deferred.
His deferment ended about 14 months later and he was drafted into the Army on 23 April 1943. He trained at Camp Lee and was then assigned to a military police company in Florida, and for a year and a half guarded an Army hospital in Coral Gables. By the fall of 1944, however, the Army needed replace its heavy combat infantry losses far more than guards for Florida hospitals and he was sent to Camp Livingston in Louisiana for six weeks of retraining as infantry. He shipped out overseas in late February 1945 and was eventually assigned to Company L of the 274th Infantry as a replacement. He survived less than three weeks of combat before being killed by shrapnel on 19 March 1945 in Germany.