An Independence Day Remembrance of My Father – A True Hero

Today many of us will gather with family and friends for barbecues and picnics to celebrate our country’s 241st Independence Day. But, at some point between the hot dogs, hamburgers, and the firecrackers, I hope each of us will take time to reflect on what Independence Day is really about – remembering the sacrifices of our American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and guardsman who have given their service (and some their lives) to protect the freedoms so many of us take for granted. 

And, I hope that each of us will, today, remember those who are currently serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States, and in more than 130 foreign lands.

Major Philip B. Larimore, Jr.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a remembrance of my dad that is posted at the Home of Heroes website:

Major Philip B. Larimore was the youngest man commissioned in World War II and the most-decorated Memphis hero of World War II: decorated with:

  • the Distinguished Service Cross,
  • Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster,
  • Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster,
  • Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters,
  • Croix D’Guerre with Palm, and
  • Fourragere.

He was also awarded:

  • the European Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars and an arrowhead,
  • the American Campaign Medal,
  • the World War II Victory Medal, and
  • the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Major Larimore’s unit received a Presidential Unit Citation. And, he received Battles Stars for the Rome-Arno, Southern France, and Germany campaigns.

He was promoted to first lieutenant when 18, to captain at 19, and major at 22. He was wounded six times at Anzio and twice in southern France.

In Germany, at 20 years old, as Company Commander of Company L, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division, while beating down three German machine-gun nests, he received the bullet wound which crushed the bone in his right leg above the knee causing him to lose the leg.

He completed his Army service at Fort Myer, Virginia, as Executive Officer of the Ceremonial Detachment at Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Recently, I discovered his citation for the Distinguished Service Cross:

Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major (Infantry), [then First Lieutenant] Philip B. Larimore (ASN: 0-511609), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding Company L, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 8 April 1945, near Rottershausen, Germany.

Leading his company’s attack, Major Larimore miraculously eluded the hail of enemy bullets concentrated on him and, in hand-to-hand fighting of which he was the center, killed a German officer at point-blank range.

With the unit objective taken, he sent out a patrol. Learning soon after that it was surrounded by enemy forces, he determined to got to its relief.

As he ran toward a tank in which to move up, enemy snipers opened fire, but leaping on the back of the vehicle, he ordered it forward and manned the turret machine gun. Firing into the woods and killing several of the enemy, he drew hostile fire on himself as his patrol used the diversion to withdraw.

Moving across a clearing with the tank, firing and being fired on all the way, he was struck on the helmet by a sniper bullet and momentarily stunned. Leaping from the tank, he was again hit by enemy fire and severely wounded.

Major Larimore, by his heroic leadership and courageous action in diverting the enemy, delivered his comrades from encirclement and greatly aided in securing the battalion objective.

Major Larimore’s intrepid actions, personal bravery, and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3d Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 52 (June 10, 1947). Action Date: 8-Apr-45

We his sons, Walter, William, Philip, and Richard, are aware that he was one of our nation’s heroes, but we choose to honor him even more as a loving husband to his wife of 54 years, Maxine, an incredible father to us, and a beloved grandfather to our children.

So today, we pause to reflect on what has been given and sacrificed. Let us never forget. But let us also remember what resulted from these sacrifices.

Let us remember the terrorist plots that were foiled and the killers that have been brought to justice because Americans were willing to pay the price.

Let us remember the tyrannical regimes that have been toppled and the genocides that were stopped because Americans sacrificed life and limb.

Let us remember that without a U.S. military, the world would be a far more oppressive and darker place.

Freedom is not a gift. It is an earned benefit that was paid for by the blood of our heroes. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, the sacrifices and caliber of America’s fighting men and women have been nothing short of inspirational.

12 thoughts on “An Independence Day Remembrance of My Father – A True Hero

  • Elaine Langenbahn

    Thank you for sharing your dad’s story. I wish more people recognized the daily sacrifices made by our military and their families.

  • Bill Toffler

    I wish I’d had a chance to meet your Dad–he must have been a very special man. What a lasting legacy he (and his generation) has left us all.

  • Kristine Larimore

    Thanks for posting this, I wish we all had learned more about Pop before he passed away but it’s awesome to hear about all the amazing, incredible things that he accomplished in his life.

  • Jan crouch

    Walt, thanks so much for sharing this amazing story and reminding all of us what July 4 is really about

  • He, and the men with whom he fought, are not only amazing American heroes, their incredible exploits have been forgotten. That’s why I’m praying that my book about them will make the forgotten unforgettable. Prayers the book is published will be very appreciated.


  • Jan,

    He, and the men with whom he fought, are not only amazing American heroes, their incredible exploits have been forgotten. They did 7 D-Days. The guys on the Northern Front did one. They did two “Battle of the Bulges.” They liberated Rome long before the Northern guys liberated Paris, they just did it one day before Normandy … and their heroics were forgotten. That’s why I’m praying that my book about them will make the forgotten unforgettable. Prayers the book is published will be very appreciated.

    Love to you both.



  • Frances

    I like to think that eternity will be full of stories like yours, complete with the parts of the stories known only to God and the angels of how He empowered mere men to do amazing feats. But how we need those stories now! I’ll be praying your book becomes a reality! Sorry I didn’t know your dad.

  • Laurie & Tom Fitch

    Walt-Thank you for the inspiring July 4 message!! Your Dad was a true hero!!
    With love, Laurie & Tom

  • Tom and Laurie,

    Thanks for the kind words and feedback. Both are a blessing to me. Miss seeing you guys SO much. If you’re ever up this way, do let us know. Love to you both.


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