Tribute to James Cecil


The man in the hat is James Cecil

Rebecca Bishop, Arts/Club editor

Recently, I attended an Alumni Dinner, where I had the honor of meeting one of our oldest Alumni from Lafayette. His name is James Cecil.

James Cecil is “believed to be the last living member of the 729th Platoon of the 2nd Marine Division, known as the Lexington Platoon”. This Platoon included 69 other Central Kentucky men. This Platoon was formed in 1942, 8 months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Lexington Platoon was honored on Thursday, May 17, 2012, during the Lexington Urban City Council meeting. On that day, Mayor Jim Gray proclaimed that day James Cecil Day.

Cecil grew up on a tobacco farm. At the age of 19, he joined the Marines –rather than be drafted– when the US entered the war. Cecil was promoted to Corporal after he killed a Japanese officer; Cecil was able to obtain a map of artillery positions from the dead officer.

A Purple Heart was awarded to Cecil for his injuries he endured during the battle of Saipan, in 1944. The injuries he received were, “shrapnel wounds throughout his body caused by an enemy’s exploding artillery ordinance.” Cecil was also believed to be dead, when he was rendered unconscious from a severe concussion. Cecil even spend 45 minutes in shark infested waters. However, he didn’t let any of this stop him from fighting for his country. When asked how he made it through the challenges of war, Cecil told Andy Barr, “I took it one day at a time, and I did what I was supposed to do.”

It was an honor to meet James Cecil, and if you are ever interested in meeting him, he is frequently at the Alumni Dinners.