James Lamar Stone (1922–2012)
James Lamar Stone, born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was a career U.S. Army officer who received a Medal of Honor for his actions in opposing an overwhelming attack by Chinese troops during the Korean War.
James Lamar Stone was born on December 27, 1922, in Pine Bluff, the son of firefighter Lamar L. Stone and Idell Stone. He grew up in Hot Springs (Garland County) and graduated from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1947, after which he went to work at a General Electric plant in Houston, Texas. Stone was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1948.
He was serving as a first lieutenant in Company E, Eighth Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division, when his platoon of about fifty men was deployed at a vulnerable outpost near Sokkagae, Korea. At about 9:00 p.m. on November 21, 1951, around 800 Chinese Communist troops struck the American post. The young lieutenant stood exposed while directing his unit’s defenses, at one point personally repairing a flamethrower to help repel the Chinese attackers during the first of five assaults on the American position.
He was wounded during a subsequent attack but took his platoon’s light machine gun to fire on Chinese troops attacking from two directions. Wounded a second time, he still continued to fire his carbine and direct his outnumbered unit’s defenses, which included hand-to-hand combat. When the platoon was inevitably overrun, his Medal of Honor citation states, “his voice could still be heard faintly urging his men to carry on, until he lost consciousness.” The citation continued, “Only because of this officer’s driving spirit and heroic action was the platoon emboldened to make its brave but hopeless last ditch stand.” Around 545 attackers were later reported dead around the fallen position.
Stone was taken prisoner and held in a Chinese prisoner-of-war camp near the Yalu River for twenty-two months until freed in a prisoner exchange. He was one of seven soldiers who received a Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a White House ceremony on October 27, 1953. Stone would later downplay his heroics on the night of November 21–22, 1951, saying, “It was a long, hard night of combat. My men did it. I was just there.”
Stone remained in the army, serving in Germany and performing a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. He retired as a colonel after nearly thirty years of service, during which he also received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. After retiring, he went into business with one of his two sons, James L. Stone Jr., working in home construction in Arlington, Texas. The Army’s Ninetieth Aviation Support Battalion in Fort Worth dedicated the Colonel James L. Stone U.S. Army Reserve Center in Fort Worth, Texas, in his honor in 1990.
Stone died of prostate cancer in Arlington on November 9, 2012, and is buried in Dallas–Fort Worth National Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Mary; two sons; and one step-daughter.
For additional information:
“CMH for James L. Stone.” Arkansas Alumnus 7 (December 1953).
“COL James Lamar Stone.” Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=100704644 (accessed March 2, 2018).
Langer, Emily. “James L. Stone, Army Officer Who Won the Medal of Honor for Valor in Korea, Dies.” Washington Post, November 11, 2012. Online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/james-l-stone-army-officer-who-received-the-medal-of-honor-for-valor-in-korea-dies/2012/11/11/ee4c70fe-2c18-11e2-9ac2-1c61452669c3_story.html (accessed March 2, 2018).
Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1978, Prepared for the Committee on Veterans Affairs United States Senate, February 14, 1979. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1979.
“PB-Born Medal of Honor Winner James L. Stones Dies at Age of 89.” Pine Bluff Commercial, November 15, 2012. Online at http://www.pbcommercial.com/sections/news/local/pb-born-medal-honor-winner-james-l-stone-dies-age-89.html (accessed March 2, 2018).
Phillip, Eugene. “War Hero Remembered as Soldiers’ Friend.” U.S. Army, November 29, 2012. https://www.army.mil/article/92030/war_hero_remembered_as_soldiers_friend (accessed March 2, 2018).
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
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