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'Forgotten' medal recipient being remembered

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — The vigilance of an Ohio research society and Jacksonville’s veterans’ organizations have ensured that the service of one highly decorated Army cavalryman will not be forgotten.

A Medal of Honor recipient buried in East Cemetery will see a new headstone placed on his grave — one that reflects his receiving the nation’s highest military honor.

VFW Post 1379 Commander Tom Wilson said he was contacted by a Medal of Honor society that surprised him with the news and requested help in verifying the burial site of James Russell.

Russell was a private in Company G of the 1st U.S. Cavalry when he earned the medal while in combat in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, on Oct. 20 1869. His citation was for “gallantry in action with Indians.”

“I received a phone call last year,” Wilson said. “After talking to this representative in Ohio, he sent some some paperwork and he sent some pictures and I sent him some pictures. He sent him to Delaware, where they track down Medal of Honor winners, and they confirmed the fact that, yes, he is a Medal of Honor winner.”

Following this discovery, it was noted that Russell’s headstone was worn down and did not reflect that he has received the medal.

Wilson said Jacksonville’s veteran’s organizations — AMVETS post 100, the Marine Corps League, The American Legion and Vet to Vet — which gathered the funding needed to purchase a new stone, said they easily received approval from the mayor and city cemetery board to move forward.

His headstone reflects his rank upon leaving the Army, corporal of Company K, 3rd U.S. Cavalry, as well as the date of his death in March 1905.

Wilson said he hoped to put the new stone in place in about a month.
 

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