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News From The Past

Associated Press
October 30, 1998

Marine General James L. Day, Dies at73
Okinawa Battle Hero.


James L. Day, 73, a retired Marine Corps general who won the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, for holding his ground on Sugar Loaf Hill during World War II, died here Oct. 28, 1998 after a heart attack.

He received the Medal of Honor from President Clinton on Jan. 20, more than a half-century after he was recommended for the honor for his role in the May 1945 battle for Sugar Loaf Hill on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

During the battle, the 19-year-old future general fought virtually alone from his foxhole and yielded no ground despite his own shrapnel wounds and white phosphorous burns.

After two days and two nights of fighting, the enemy dead around his foxhole numbered more than 100.

At the medal ceremony, Clinton said Gen. Day's heroism played a crucial part in holding Sugar Loaf. "That success opened the way to the capture of Okinawa and the ultimate triumph of the forces of freedom in the Pacific," Clinton said.

The paperwork for his medal was lost in the chaos of the battlefield but resurfaced in 1980 when a retired Marine found faded carbon copies of the recommendation among his World War II memorabilia. It took an additional 18 years for the paperwork to reach the appropriate officials.

In the years after World War II, Gen. Day oversaw combat troops in Korea and Vietnam. He also held commands in Japan, San Diego, Washington, Okinawa and at Camp Pendleton.

His 31 other military decorations included three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, six Purple Hearts and two Navy Commendation Medals.

After retiring from the Marines, Gen. Day was chancellor of the National University campus in Palm Springs, Calif., and partner in a construction company.


1998, by Associated Press


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