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Old 08-21-2008, 05:11 PM   #1
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Marine Corps History - 3 War Marine - James Lewis Day

The Lore of the Corps



Marine showed combat bravery in span of 3 wars
By Fred L. Borch and Robert F. Dorr - Special to the Times
Posted : August 25, 2008

James Lewis Day received a Marine record six Purple Hearts in three wars. Day also was awarded the Medal of Honor, although not until 1998, more than 50 years after he survived an epic battle on Okinawa.
Born in Missouri in 1925, Jim Day enlisted in the Corps in 1943 and saw action in the Marshall Islands and on Guam.
On May 14, 1945, 19-year-old then-Cpl. Day was in the middle of fighting for Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa when, according to official records, he led several Marines to a shell crater and fought off a fierce Japanese attack. That night, he helped repel three more assaults. Then, after his fellow Marines were wounded, Day braved heavy fire to escort them to safety.
The next day, only Day and another Marine — who was wounded — were still in their foxhole. Despite repeated assaults, Day continued the fight, even after he was badly burned by white phosphorous and injured by shrapnel. He was finally relieved three days later. More than 100 Japanese lay dead around his foxhole.
After the war, Day received a commission and completed The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., in September 1952. He subsequently deployed to Korea and, in addition to being wounded in action, received two Silver Stars for gallantry while serving with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and the 1st Reconnaissance Company.
Upon his return to the U.S., then-1st Lt. Day served first at the Marine Corps Supply Center in Barstow, Calif., before taking command of a company at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in July 1954. Day commanded a mortar company on Okinawa from 1957 to 1958.
In April 1966, then-Maj. Day deployed for the first time to Vietnam, where he commanded 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. When he returned to the U.S. in June 1967, Day was promoted to lieutenant colonel and given two more battalion commands at Pendleton.
After graduating from the Army War College in 1972, Day returned to Vietnam to serve as operations officer, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, III Marine Amphibious Force.
Day was promoted to colonel in November 1973 and received his first star in 1976. In 1980, Day was promoted to major general and assumed command of 1st Marine Division. When he retired from active duty in December 1986, he was in command of Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Okinawa, and deputy commander of Marine Corps Bases Pacific/Okinawa area coordinator.
During his career, Day was awarded three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit and a Bronze Star (both with combat “V”) along with his six Purple Hearts.
But it wasn’t until Jan. 20, 1998, that President Bill Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to Day for his heroism at Sugar Loaf in 1945. Day died of a heart attack only months later, on Oct. 28. He was interred in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
Fred L. Borch, an Army veteran, is the regimental historian for the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. His e-mail address is [email protected]. Robert F. Dorr, an Air Force veteran, lives in Oakton, Va. His e-mail address is [email protected].
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