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STONE, JAMES LAMAR

James Lamar Stone (1922–2012).
United States Army platoon leader First Lt. James L. Stone received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

STONE, JAMES LAMAR (1922–2012). James Lamar Stone, Medal of Honor recipient, was born on December 27, 1922, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He was the son of State and Idell Stone. He grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and also spent some time in Dallas, Texas. Stone attended the University of Arkansas where he studied chemistry and zoology. He also joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). From the beginning, Stone enjoyed the military environment, military personnel, and Army ROTC summer camp. He earned good grades in his military course work. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1947, he accepted a position with General Electric in Houston. In 1948 Stone was called to active duty and assigned to train at Fort Ord, California.

First Lieutenant Stone was deployed to Korea as a member of Company F, Second Battalion, Eighth Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division, in March 1951. For the next nine months, he alternated as a platoon leader for Companies F and G because casualties were so high for frontline junior officers at the time. He spent most of his time, however, with Company F and developed a bond with them. In October, Stone was credited for pulling two wounded men to safety after an attack on an enemy machine gun. He received a Silver Star for his actions. 

On the evening of November 21, 1951, Lieutenant Stone was leading his platoon of about fifty men on a hilltop outpost above the Imjin River, near Sakogae, North Korea. From this location, Stone’s unit could view Chinese movements along their front. After firing some white phosphorous shells to mark the American location and then firing off an artillery barrage, Chinese forces moved up the hill toward Stone’s location. In a few minutes, the outnumbered Americans were in a desperate fight. Standing erect, Stone issued orders in the face of enemy fire. He also moved in the direction of a malfunctioned defense flamethrower whose operator had been killed. Stone repaired the flamethrower and gave it to another soldier. The enemy continued to attack numerous times, and the fighting lasted through the night. When Chinese reinforcements arrived after midnight, their total numbers were estimated to be up to 800 men. During one of the assaults, the injured Stone moved with a light machine gun from one location to another and fired at Chinese advances in two directions. Toward the end of the struggle, the Americans fought the enemy in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches. The Chinese killed half of Stone’s platoon. Stone ordered the survivors to retreat, and he provided cover. Wounded in the neck and twice in a leg and losing consciousness, James Stone and six other wounded men were taken prisoner in the final Chinese assault before dawn. The following day, American forces found hundreds of dead Chinese at the battle site. Reports gave the number of Chinese casualties as 545.

James L. Stone greets his mother.
James L. Stone greets his mother after his release from a Chinese prison camp in 1953. Stone spent twenty-two months as a prisoner of war. He described his first sight of the American flag as "like being reborn." Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Lieutenant Stone spent twenty-two months as a prisoner of war. His time at Officers Camp No. 2 on the Yalu River near the Manchurian border was harsh. The Chinese provided their prisoners little food and no medical care in an environment where disease was rampant. A number of Stone’s letters reached members of his family and provided information that he was still alive. In September 1953, five weeks after the war ended, the Chinese freed Stone as part of a prisoner exchange referred to as the “Big Switch.” The first sight of the American flag flying high on a flag pole after his release, James Stone later said was “like being reborn.” 

James L. Stone and President Dwight Eisenhower.
First. Lt. James L. Stone received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House on October 27, 1953. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

When first told he would be awarded the Medal of Honor, Stone expressed surprise and that “It should go to the men of my platoon.” The survivors from Stone’s third platoon had recommended him for the medal. On October 27, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower presented the Medal of Honor to Lt. James Stone and six others in a ceremony at the White House. In a brief conversation, he told the president how he was treated as a prisoner of war and that he planned to remain in the army.

James L. Stone at dedication in 2011.
Retired Col. James L. Stone talks to soldiers of the Ninetieth Aviation Support Battalion at the dedication of the Colonel James L. Stone U.S. Army Reserve Center in Fort Worth on November 6, 2011. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

James Stone served in the army for almost thirty years and rose to the rank of colonel. During his military career, he served in Germany, administered several ROTC programs in the Fort Worth area in the 1960s, and experienced a tour of duty in Vietnam as an advisor in 1971. He retired from the military in December 1976. Stone’s first marriage was to Jane Dickerson Stone; they had two sons. After her death, he married Mary Lou Hickman. A humble person by nature, Stone neglected to inform his second wife of his Medal of Honor until after the marriage. Beginning in 1980 Colonel Stone lived in Arlington, Texas. For a time, he assisted his son, James L. Stone, Jr., in the home building business. Stone was involved in the Dallas-Fort Worth area Korean War Veterans Association and regularly attended the Veterans Day ceremonies at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. He was also very active in the First United Methodist Church in Arlington. In 2011 the Army Ninetieth Aviation Support Battalion dedicated the Colonel James L. Stone U.S. Army Reserve Center in Fort Worth. On November 9, 2012, James Stone died at his home in Arlington after a long battle with cancer. He was buried with full military honors at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Morning News, November 13, 2012. “James L. Stone, Medal of Honor, Korean War” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLLPnpykCqg), accessed July 13, 2017. Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2012. Edward F. Murphy, Korean War Heroes (Novato, California: Presido Press, 1992). New York Times, November 13, 2012. 

Henry Franklin Tribe

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Handbook of Texas Online, Henry Franklin Tribe, "Stone, James Lamar ," accessed October 20, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fstfh.

Uploaded on July 18, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.