World War II Hero Honored - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/23/05

World War II Hero Honored

Gone, but no longer forgotten.

Saturday, more than a hundred people gathered to honor the memory of a Gulfport resident who made the supreme sacrifice more than half a century ago.

It was 1945 in the Philippines when Private First Class James Diamond was killed while saving the lives of his fellow soldiers during World War II by drawing enemy fire, allowing his comrades to escape.

His body was brought back to Gulfport for burial

But over time, Diamond's grave marker has become less than fitting for a war hero.

Saturday, his sacrifice was honored with a special ceremony in Gulfport.

"Though mortally wounded, he reached the gun. He succeeded in drawing sufficient fire on himself so the remaining members of his patrol could reach safety," one guest speaker said.

On May 14th of 1945, Private First Class James Diamond put his country, and his fellow soldiers ahead of his own welfare.

Master of Ceremonies, WLOX anchor Jeff Lawson, said, "At the age of 20, he made the supreme sacrifice for his country on Mindanao, Philippines islands."

Nearly 60 years later, dozens of people who never even knew the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, gathered to honor his short but meaningful life with a new 1,200 pound headstone.

The idea stemmed from a South Mississippi man who has seen some fierce battles of his own, Air Force veteran "Doc" Blanchard. Doc Blanchard.

"It just so happened that I came over here, and I discovered the grave, as you can see right here was embedded and an ant bed over it, and what have you. So, I repositioned it," he said.

But that wasn't enough for Blanchard.

He wanted to do more to honor the life and memory of the World War II hero.

That's when he and the VFW turned to the city of Gulfport.

"I went to the city councilmen of the city. They just opened up their hearts up and said, we'll appropriate the monies, we'll do the services, we'll do everything," said Gulfport Councilman Chuck Teston.

Now the memory of this once-forgotten war hero has been resurrected, and his legacy lives on.

By: Toni Miles

Powered by Frankly