James Lamar Stone was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in December 1922, to parents State and Idell Stone. He grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his brother, Edward. Stone joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and studied chemistry and zoology at the University of Arkansas, where he met his first wife, Jane, with whom he had two sons. He graduated from college in 1947 and worked for General Electric.
Stone joined the Army in 1948 and trained at Fort Ord, California. He deployed to serve in the Korean War with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in March 1951. He alternated between platoons because of a high rate of turnover among junior officers due to the number of casualties.
Despite being far outnumbered and having been shot in both the knees and neck, Stone calmly directed his men in defense against the enemy, repaired a malfunctioning defensive flamethrower by himself, carried the only remaining light machine gun to fire at the forces which surrounded him, and stayed behind with the badly wounded after ordering the men that could still walk to retreat to Company E. Stone subsequently lost consciousness and awoke at a prisoner of war camp near the Yalu River after being captured by Chinese forces. After 22 months of captivity, he was liberated in a prisoner exchange in September 1953.
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