Army Col. James L. Stone> US Department of Defense> History

Army Col. James Lamar Stone never thought his leadership in an unbalanced and lost battle in Korea was worthy of the Medal of Honor, but others disagreed. When the war ended and he was released from a POW camp, Stone received the nation’s highest honor for his bravery.

Stone was born December 27, 1922 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to State and Idell Stone. He and his younger brother, Edward, grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but they also spent time in Dallas.

Stone went to the University of Arkansas to study chemistry and zoology, but he also joined ROTC, which he really enjoyed. He married Jane Dickerson in college and they had two sons. Stone received his bachelor’s degree in 1947 and went to work for General Electric in Houston. In 1948 he was called up to active duty and went to train at Fort Ord, California.

In March 1951, Stone deployed to Korea with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. As a platoon leader, he alternated between two companies due to the high number of casualties among junior officers at the time. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Stone won the Silver Star in October for bringing two wounded men to safety after an attack on an enemy machine gun.

The defining moment in his career would come the following month.

On November 21, 1951, then 1st Lt. Stone led the 3rd Platoon of Company E, which was tasked with defending a vital outpost on a desolate hill above the Imjin River near Sokkogae, Korea. North. At around 9 p.m., Chinese forces attacked the platoon with mortars. When the assault stopped, Stone sent flares, which lit up the hillside and showed massive force coming towards them.

Stone’s platoon had only a few minutes to prepare before the enemy launched the first of several assaults on their position. The first lieutenant was standing in sandbag trenches and, despite the gunfire coming towards him, calmly ordered his men to defend themselves.

Most of the fighting was hand-to-hand combat. At one point, Stone noticed that a flamethrower had malfunctioned and its operator had been killed. He maneuvered through gunfire to grab it and fix it before handing it over to another soldier.

In a second wave of attacks, Stone transported the platoon’s only remaining machine gun from position to position to defend against Chinese advances from two directions. During the ordeal he continued to cheer and lead the exhausted peloton and continued to fight with his rifle, although he was shot in the knees and neck.

Stone’s platoon spent over three hours repelling assault after assault. When the time came to retreat, Stone stayed behind to cover those who remained as the remaining members of the platoon fled. The Chinese finally swept the position just before dawn. According to his Medal of Honor quote, “Stone’s voice could still be heard weakly urging his men to continue until he passed out.”

By the end of the fight, 24 of the 48 platoon members were dead and 16 others were wounded. In contrast, according to the Texas State Preservation Board, nearly 550 of the roughly 800 Chinese forces that attacked have died.

When American soldiers retook the hill the next day, they realized that seven men, including Stone, were missing. An unconscious stone had been carried away on a stretcher by Chinese forces. He was held as a prisoner in North Korea along the Manchu border for 22 months. Records show the treatment there was harsh, but he was allowed to write letters to his family so they would know he was alive.

Stone was released in early September 1953 during a prisoner exchange after the end of the war. Shortly after this release, Stone learned he would receive the Medal of Honor for leading this brave, but desperate, last-ditch effort. He said he felt it was his pack that deserved it.

Either way, on October 27, 1953, Stone received the nation’s highest honor for bravery from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a White House ceremony. Six other recipients also earned this honor that day.

After recovering from the ordeal, Stone remained in the military, serving in Germany and as an administrator of ROTC units in the Fort Worth area. Stone also completed a period of service in Vietnam in 1971 as a counselor.

According to the Texas State Historical Association, Stone’s first wife died and he remarried a woman named Mary Lou. This account said he was so humble about his medal that he only told her about it after they were married.

In December 1976, Stone retired as Colonel after nearly 30 years of service. He moved to Arlington, Texas in 1980 and was heavily involved in the veterans community and the Methodist Church.

In 2010, Stone was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he didn’t let it affect his daily life. He remained active and attended as many events as he could for the 90th Aviation Support Battalion, an Army Reserve component near his home. His friends and family said he enjoyed interacting with the soldiers so much that a center built there was dedicated to him in 2011.

Stone died of cancer on November 9 at his home; he was 89 years old. He was buried in Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas.

This article is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday” in which we recognize one of more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have won the United States Army’s highest medal for bravery .


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