By Joel Hall
Sixty-five years ago, Smyrna resident James Brumbelow accompanied the 3rd Marine Division into the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the fiercest battles of World War II. After the American flag was raised, Brumbelow, a member of the Army's Battery B, 483rd Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, stayed in Iwo Jima, while the Marines went on to the Japanese mainland.
Following Japan's surrender, Brumbelow was discharged from the Army at Fort McPherson, in December of 1945. However, due to the hectic nature of the war, Brumbelow never received the service medals he earned while fighting in the Western Pacific.
Today (Saturday), at the National Archives at Atlanta, after 65 years, the office of U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) will honor Brumbelow, 86, with the medals he always deserved, but never got.
A special military awards reception will be held for Brumbelow at the National Archives at Atlanta, in Morrow, at 10 a.m. Through the efforts of Scott's office, and a military service records review by the U.S. Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va., Brumbelow is to receive the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar, and the World War II Honorable Service Lapel Button.
Scott said Brumbelow is one of many soldiers who was not bestowed the proper medals for service in World War II.
"During that time, because it was still war time, many of those demobilizing soldiers did not receive the honors they deserved," Scott said. "He's not the only one. You can imagine the calamity of the world at the time. It was an oversight. We just wanted to make sure that we took the time to recognize this man."
Today's event, according to Scott, is also serving as the nomination ceremony for Atlanta-area students nominated to receive full academic scholarships to the nation's military academies. Nineteen students, eight of them from Clayton and Henry counties, will be recognized and considered to receive scholarships valued at up to $400,000 from the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
"Anyone that is going to attend a military academy must be nominated by the president, a vice president, their senator, or their congressman," said David Johnson, district director of Scott's office. "That is why it is a significant accomplishment for anyone to receive a nomination. In some cases, the military academies have already made their final decisions. We've interviewed all of these folks. They have demonstrated leadership potential."
Students from Clayton and Henry counties being honored include: Tracy Daniels (Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School); Walter Dennard (U.S. Military Academy Prep School); John Gay, III (Riverdale High School); Andrew Love (Jonesboro High School); Nnamdi Moh (Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School); Jayson Richard (Vicenza American High School, Italy); Devin Scott (Tucker High School); and Christopher Stanford (Stockbridge High School).
Brumbelow, said some of the members of his battalion received their service medals in the 1970s, but he never pursued getting his own until recently. He said it will be an honor to finally receive them.
"The only reason I can say why we didn't get them [the service medals] is because we were discharged under Army, but these medals should be from Iwo Jima, when we were attached to the Marines. I didn't go into it to get medals ... that's not what I went into the service for, but I do appreciate it. It is really something I never called on a politician to do, but they have really got on the ball with it and got it squared away. This is a great honor ... to be a World War II veteran and have something done for you."
Scott said today's ceremony will likely make a deep impression on local youths preparing to enter the armed forces.
"This man served valiantly through World War II and we don't have many of these individuals left," Scott said. "Here we are, bringing these young people into the military and at the same time, we are taking the time to grant a serviceman the medals that he never got. What an impression that will make on young people. It's going to be a wonderful day to represent what America stands for ... we don't leave any soldier behind."