Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Just three days after Veterans Day, family and friends of a Medal of Honor recipient took another day to honor Col. James Lamar Stone — this time at his funeral service at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Stone died Nov. 9 after a long battle with cancer. He is the first Medal of Honor recipient to be buried in the DFW National Cemetery.
“Col. Stone represents the highest honor in our nation,” Tommy Sowers, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said after the funeral. “He represents the best of the nation.”
Stone was born on Dec. 27, 1922 in Pine Bluff, AR. He became a member of the Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Stone was called to active duty in 1948.
Three years later, Stone was deployed to Korea as a first lieutenant. On Nov. 21, 1951 at a hilltop near Sokkogae, South Korea, Stone’s platoon of 48 men fought off Chinese soldiers six times in about three hours. About midnight, Chinese reinforcements arrived, bringing their total to about 800 men.
When the Chinese attacked again, Stone moved his forces from position to position in the trenches and even climbed the sandbag walls and exposed himself to enemy fire. When a flamethrower malfunctioned, Stone darted enemy shots to repair it and give it to another soldier to operate.
As Chinese soldiers entered the trenches, fighting switched to hand-to-hand combat, and Stone used his rifle as a club before he manned their sole remaining machine gun.
At the end of the battle, half of Stone’s troops were dead and Stone himself was hit three times. He stayed behind with the wounded and ordered his soldiers to retreat. Stone was captured with six other men and would go on to spend the next 22 months in a prisoner of war camp.
Reports estimate about 545 Chinese soldiers were killed in the battle. Stone was 28 years old.
In 1953, Stone was released in Operation Big Switch along with about 3,600 American soldiers.He received the Congressional Medal of Honor about a month after his release from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
According to Peter Collier’s book, “Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty,” after Eisenhower presented Stone’s award and six others, he said of their courage, "I feel perfectly safe up here."
Stone later served in Germany, Fort Worth and Vietnam. After nearly 30 years of service, Stone retired and moved to Arlington, where he attended many Texas Rangers baseball games.
He is survived by his second wife, Mary Lou, son James Jr., his wife Mary and grandson Stewart; son Ray and wife Marta; step daughter Amy Rodriguez, her husband Oscar, and their children.
“We realize that you have lost a husband, a grandfather, a hero,” a soldier said at the funeral. “May God give you peace.”