After his high school graduation in 1927, James Dalton entered the Military Acadamy at West Point in 1929 and graduated in 1933.
Initially, with the Calvary, General Dalton received a spinal injury playing polo. After a lengthy hospital stay, he was reassigned to infantry.
Assigned to the 161st Rifle Regiment, he was posted at Pearl Harbor during the attack in 1941 and in 1943, after the 161st was deployed to Guadalcanal, he received the command for the 161st and led the regiment through the New Georgia Island campaign.
During the Battle of Luzon, he was reassigned to the 25th Infantry Division as the assistant commander and was killed in action during the Battle of Balete Pass on May 16, 1945. He had been promoted to Brigadier General only one month before his death. Balete Pass was renamed Dalton Pass in his honor. This highly decorated soldier is at rest in the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manilla.