Jim Chankalyan was born in Tigranakert province of Western Armenia by the name of Petros Chankalyan. Soon he and his family emigrated to the USA. Besides being an experienced American soldier, Chankalyan was also a well-known figure in the Armenian community of New York. The Hentchak Party, reformed in 1915, together with the regional committee of the Constitutional Democratic Party of the USA, addressed Chankalyan with a special mission, first to the Caucasus, then to Van, where he was supposed to help the Armenian liberation movement. Chankalyan readily agreed to this request. Together with a group of volunteers from Western Armenia, at the appointed time, Chankalyan arrived in Van, where he was met by the heroic leader of the Armenian self-defense forces, Armenak Egaryan.
As an adviser to Yeganyan, Chankalyan played an important role in the formation of the Erkrapah regiment. In the end, his military mission was crowned with success. Returning to the United States in 1917, Chankalyan soon learned about the program of the formation of the Armenian Legion in France, which he decided to join. The Legion was created in order to go to the Palestinian front and fight with the German and Turkish allied armies. In the coming decades, Chankalyan continued his activities for the benefit of his homeland. He became the main contributor to the creation of the American-Armenian National Council and took the post of its president. He was also the first chairman of the Central Committee of the General Armenian Charitable Union and devoted himself to the service of the Armenian Church. The famous Armenian Patriot Chankalyan died in New York in 1947.