A Memorial Day Remembrance: Major Philip B. Larimore, Jr.

This weekend, many of us will gather with family and friends for barbecues and picnics to celebrate Memorial Day, the unofficial kickoff to summer. But, at some point between the hot dogs, hamburgers, and volleyball, I hope each of us will take time to reflect on what Memorial Day is really about – remembering the American soldiers who have lost their lives in battle to protect the freedoms so many of us take for granted.

While Memorial Day is intended to honor our fallen, we should not forget those who have pledged to make the same sacrifice if called upon – the young men and women still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States and in more than 130 foreign lands.

And, I want 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, on this most sacred day, 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.

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6 Responses to A Memorial Day Remembrance: Major Philip B. Larimore, Jr.

  1. Oren May says:

    Mr. Larimore has been a big influence on a lot of people in the Baton Rouge area. I learned a lot from him through Boy Scouts and getting to know him through Spike and Ricky being teamates all through school. We were lucky to have him on our side.
    Oren May

  2. Danny Price says:

    Paul sent me the article and it is good to remember all the war veterans. You did a great job as usual. Love to all especially Barb.
    In Jesus, Danny

  3. GENE WORLEY says:

    I FIRST MET PHIL IN EARLY 1950s. He was a good customer of mine when I was in the service station business on Highland Road. I knew he was a veteran, but did not know of the extreme conditions he survived. He was a great patriot of this country. I have the utmost respect for all the veterans who offered their lives to protect this country. We can never repay them for all their sacrifices. I would also join whatever it takes to protect this wonderful country.

  4. Dr. Walt says:

    Mr. Worley, you may not remember, but you gave me my first job at your station on Highland Road when I was a boy. I’ve never forgotten you teaching me to pump gas, service cars, change and fix tires, and do some motor work. When you moved to your Perkins Road location, our family and neighborhood grieved.

    The main thing you taught me when I worked for you was not just how to care for a car, but how to care for the customer — to make him or her feel welcome and thanked for their service. I loved working for you and am happy to have the opportunity to publicly thank you. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  5. gail guard says:

    I am very glad that you have a father to be very proud of for what he did for our country but I think the most important thing he did was to instill in your family not only to love our country but always look for the good in people.

    Not many have doctors that one can have and call the W or Walt and they know it is done with respect and thanks for being the only person who respected me – even when I did not respect myself – and never giving up on me.

    Love to you. Barb, the children and grandkids. I think your father has a lot more to be pleased with and proud of than his service to our country. I am not taking that lightly because of people like him we have our freedom but because of you I found mine.

    God Bless,
    Gail

  6. Dr. Walt says:

    Gail,

    Thanks for the kinds words. They are an encouragement, affirmation, and blessing.

    Walt

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