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James Lamar Stone: Arlington's Second Medal of Honor Recipient

Col. James L. Stone, an Arlington resident for the last 32 years of his life, was a recipient of the nation’s highest military honor—the Medal of Honor. It was awarded for his personal acts of valor, above and beyond the call of duty during the Korean War. He served in the Eighth Cavalry Regiment of the First Cavalry Division.

On the evening of November 21, 1951, Stone was Company E platoon leader on a hill overlooking the Imjin River near Sokkogae. His small unit of 48 men was subjected to a heavy mortar attack at about nine o'clock that night. Stone radioed for flares to be sent up above the hillside when the bombardment ended. The flares revealed an overwhelming enemy force advancing up the hill. The American defenses repelled this first attack wave, along with five others over the next three hours. The Chinese force received reinforcements after midnight, bringing their estimated number to roughly 800.

The enemy attacked again and Stone directed the defenses by moving from position to position in the trenches. Stone exposed himself to enemy fire in the process by climbing the sandbag trench walls. A flamethrower malfunctioned and its operator was killed, so Stone rushed through enemy fire, repaired it, and gave it to another soldier to operate. The enemy then entered the American trenches and hand-to-hand combat ensued. Stone used his rifle as a club in the fighting before he seized the unit's only remaining machine gun and moved it several times to fire on advancing enemy soldiers. The fighting in the trenches killed half of Stone's men and Stone himself was wounded three times.

He ordered the remaining soldiers to retreat while he stayed behind with the wounded to cover their escape. Stone and the other wounded soldiers were overwhelmed just before dawn. When the Army recaptured the position the next day they counted 545 enemy soldiers who died attacking Stone's unit.

Stone was unconscious when captured by the Chinese and carried by stretcher to a nearby command post for interrogation. He spent the next 22 months in a prisoner of war camp near the Yalu River. A few of Stone's letters home were received by his family, so they knew that he was alive. When released in a prisoner exchange in 1953, he learned that he had been awarded the medal. “I don’t deserve the medal, he said, near tears. “It should go to the men of my platoon. They were all so brave. Nothing I could say could tell you how proud I was to be with those men on that hill that night.”

James L. Stone was born Dec. 27, 1922, in Pine Bluff, Ark. He studied chemistry and zoology at the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of the R.O.T.C. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1947, went to work with General Electric, but was called to active duty in 1948, and was deployed to Korea as a 1st Lieutenant in March 1951.

Stone remained in the Army after returning to the United States. He served for a period of time in Germany before moving to the Fort Worth area to administer several ROTC units in the 1960s. He served a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1971. He retired from the Army as a Colonel after almost 30 years of service, and a couple of years or so after that, he and his wife Mary Lou chose to make Arlington their home.

During retirement, year after year, he attended Veterans Day ceremonies at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. He was an active member of a Dallas-Fort Worth Area Korean War Veterans Association. For a time he helped in a home-building business started by his son, James Lamar Stone, Jr. He was an avid baseball fan and enjoyed attending Texas Rangers games, as well as his grandson Stewart’s Little League games.

On November 6, 2011, Stone was the guest of honor as members of the 90th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB) officially dedicated their new facility in his name—the Col. James L. Stone Army Reserve Center, Fort Worth, Texas. Stone attended as many of the 90th ASB unit events as he could, even during his last days, when he was fighting the cancer that took his life. In particular, he loved the opportunity to visit with the young soldiers. He would often say, “You know, a Colonel is just not a Colonel unless he’s around soldiers.”

He died November 9, 2012, in his Arlington home. His funeral was at the First United Methodist Church of Arlington on November 14. He was laid to rest with full military honors at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, the first Medal of Honor recipient to be buried there.

Thank you Col. Stone, and all others who served in the Korean War. We salute you.

Note: Material for this article was complied from the following web sources: Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Official Homepage of the U. S. Army, and the Star-Telegram.