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Author Topic: First MOH recipient laid to rest in the Dallas-Forth Worth Nat'l Cemetery  (Read 1789 times)

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21 Nov 2012 OBIT ~ James L. Stone:   

Under a deep blue sky, in peaceful silence save for the fluttering of Old Glory in row on row, Medal of Honor recipient James L. Stone was buried 21 NOV, nearly 61 years to the day after the bloody battle for which he would earn the nation's highest military award. Stone, the first Medal of Honor recipient laid to rest in the 638-acre Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, died of bone cancer 16 NOV at his home in Arlington. His death at age 89 leaves the nation with 80 living recipients of the medal. Those who spoke at services at the cemetery and at First United Methodist Church of Arlington described Stone as a humble man with Arkansas roots who tried his hardest to be a regular husband and dad. He never bragged about his heroics as a 28- year-old first lieutenant the night of Nov. 21-22, 1951.
Oldest son James Stone Jr. said his father didn't like to talk about his Korean War experiences, a harrowing time in his life that also included 22 months as a prisoner of war. I think it was a defense mechanism," Stone Jr. said after the funeral, attended by about 100 veterans, relatives and military officials. "Whenever I would ask him a question about it, he would get quiet. It was like he was in a trance." But Stone, described as a guiding force behind the creation of the national cemetery in southwest Dallas 12 years ago, never stopped wanting to visit with current service members. And he always enjoyed talking with youngsters. "During all of his visits to DFW Cemetery events, the highlight of his day was always staying behind and shaking all of the young Boy Scouts' hands and visiting with them long after everyone else departed," said Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Darlington, an Army Reserve commander.
Stone's actions that night in 1951 are as heroic as any ever depicted in motion pictures. His 48-man unit was attacked at about 9 p.m. by Chinese troops on what would later be known as Pork Chop Hill. Six times over three hours, the Chinese charged up the hill. Six times, Stone's unit repelled them. Reinforcements arrived for the Chinese after midnight, giving them about 800 men. The enemy attacked again. Stone led his troops, moving from position to position, climbing the sandbag walls atop the trenches and exposing himself to enemy fire. A flamethrower malfunctioned, killing its operator. Stone dodged bullets to repair it, then gave it to another soldier. Chinese troops breached the American line, entered the trenches and began fighting by hand. Stone used his rifle as a club and seized the platoon's only remaining machine gun, repositioning it several times as he fired on the enemy. By then, half his troops were dead. He was wounded twice in the leg and once in the neck. As he lost consciousness, he continued to urge his troops to fight. The next day, advancing American troops found 545 enemy soldiers dead. But they didn't find Stone: He had been captured along with six others and would spend 22 months in a prisoner-of-war camp. After his return, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in October 1953.
James L. Stone with his mother in 1953 after his release from a prison camp.
Stone would be stationed in Germany and supervise the ROTC units in Fort Worth in the mid-1960s. He also served in the Vietnam War. For those who knew Stone, his humility was as legendary as his heroism. Last year, at the dedication of an Army reserve base that bears his name in Fort Worth, Stone said that he was honored but that his troops deserved the praise. "Let me make this emphatically clear to you," Stone said at the time. "My men did most of the work. They are the ones who should be honored." Tarrant County Criminal Court Judge Brent Carr, who came to know Stone, said he introduced the war hero to his sons. Stone made a lasting impression on them and now, as Army officers themselves, they wrote letters praising him to his widow, Mary. Carr read those letters during the church services in Arlington. "He said that he was just an ordinary guy," Capt. Brent Carr Jr. wrote. "There were better men than him that were out there that night. But sometimes, ordinary people are called to do extraordinary things. They don't seem extraordinary at the time; you are just doing your job just like all of the other guys that are doing their job. I can tell you right now that Col. James Stone was an extraordinary man." "Our country should be thankful that we have warriors who are willing to stand in front of the flag and dare our enemies to do their worst," the letter continues. "And when they bring their worst, there are men like Col. Stone who look them back in the eye and stand in their path."
On 21 NOV, he received full military honors, including the sounding of taps and three rifle volleys. Black Hawk helicopters flew overhead in the missing-man formation. His family received American flags from Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate was presented by Tommy Sowers, Veterans Affairs assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. The Patriot Guard Riders and Arlington motorcycle officers escorted the funeral procession to the cemetery.
[Source: Star-Telegram | Patrick M. Walker | 14 Nov 2012 ++]
Joe Kleinsmith
All State VFW Post 1716 Cmdr (1998-2000)
Cpt, VFW Post Honor Guard, Retired (1991-2009)
SC-SB County Council Cmdr (1996-1997)
SFC, US Army, Retired (1971-1991)
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