Beaumont Marine veteran of Okinawa to be honored April 1 with flag dedication ceremony

Toya Pier. Okinawa. James R. Barlow of Beaumont is inset.

A special ceremony honoring a survivor of the historic Okinawa campaign will be held at Edison Plaza in downtown Beaumont on Friday, April 1, from 9-9:30 a.m. Members of the Marine Corps League and area veteran organizations will take part in the flag raising and dedication to Corporal James R. Barlow of Beaumont.

The 89-year-old Barlow was born Aug. 12, 1926, and enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps in May 1944. After boot camp at Parris Island, he served in the Pacific Area from January 1945 until August 1946. He was only 19 when he began serving in the last and biggest of the Pacific island battles of World War II, the Battle of Okinawa.

The Okinawa campaign (April 1 – June 22, 1945) was a proving ground for the young Barlow. His attachment, the 6th Marine Division, underwent “rugged” training on Guadalcanal between October 1944 and January 1945 before it was shipped 6,000 miles to land as part of the III Amphibious Corps on the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. The 6th Marine Division was credited with more than 23,839 enemy soldiers killed or captured, and with helping to capture two-thirds of the island; the cost was high, with 576 casualties on May 16 alone, the day of the “bitterest” fighting of the Okinawa campaign.

Barlow was awarded the Purple Heart for “wounds received as a result of enemy action in the Asiatic-Pacific Area on May 21, 1945” in the Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill. He went on to serve in the occupation of Japan from August 1945 until July 1946 and was the 17th American ashore in Japan after the Japanese surrender.

Edison Plaza is at 350 Pine St., Beaumont, TX 77701.

— Cindy Yohe Lindsay/Coastal Welding Supply

— “Visions of Okinawa” photo by SMSgt. Kevin Wallace