Laddonia Medal of Honor recipient to have his day

WWII veteran noted for Pearl Harbor heroics

By Alan Dale Managing Editor
Posted 8/3/22

This year, the “Day that will live in Infamy,” will have a brighter connotation this winter in Laddonia.

Native son Samuel Fuqua, a World War II hero during the bombing of Pearl …

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Laddonia Medal of Honor recipient to have his day

WWII veteran noted for Pearl Harbor heroics

Posted

This year, the “Day that will live in Infamy,” will have a brighter connotation this winter in Laddonia.

Native son Samuel Fuqua, a World War II hero during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and subsequent recipient of the Medal of Honor, will be honored along with many other Missouri honorees by their respective hometowns.

Fuqua was born in Laddonia in 1899.

“There is something in the works to honor all the Medal of Honor winners in Missouri in their hometowns,” Alderman/Mayor Pro Tem Tresa Hodges said. “They will be honored with highway signs basically. Since he served on the USS Arizona at the time the attack of Pearl Harbor happened, we will hold our dedication on Dec. 7.

“We are going to try to make a thing of it – get the school involved and of course, our local American Legion will be involved.”

Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman is spearheading this event and has worked with the Navy since 1985.

“Missouri has almost 100 Medal of Honor recipients, going back to the Civil War: We need to recognize these heroes, and their accomplishments,” Bushman said. “We are losing our WWII veterans daily. Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fuqua saved hundreds of lives during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”

After service at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois, from 1939-41, Lieutenant Commander Fuqua returned to the ship Arizona as its Damage Control Officer and first lieutenant and was on board her during Japan's December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Though knocked unconscious by a bomb that hit the ship's stern early in the attack, he subsequently directed firefighting and rescue efforts. After the ship's forward magazines exploded, he was the senior surviving officer and was responsible for saving the remaining crewmen. 

“He rescued injured sailors, transferred them to Ford Island, and pulled them out of the blazing oil in the water,” Bushman said. “He was a hero this day. I travel to Pearl Harbor with some regularity, and Naval ships entering the harbor render honors to the Arizona. This is a tradition that will always be followed. 

“The Arizona is a historical part of Pearl Harbor that will always be remembered and honored.”

For his actions at that time, Fuqua was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Fuqua retired from active duty in July 1953, receiving at that time the rank of rear admiral on the basis of his combat awards.

Bushman called Fuqua a man who will “always” be a hero of Laddonia and Missouri.

“We want to recognize him on Dec. 7 and Lieutenant Governor Kehoe is working with MODOT on the proper signs,” Bushman said. “My committee is working on Laddonia and future Missouri communities. We’re getting closer to Dec. 7, so we need to start finalizing plans.” 

According to numerous sources, Fuqua entered the United States Naval Academy in July 1919, after a year at the University of Missouri and World War I service in the Army. Following graduation and commissioning in June 1923, he served in the battleship USS Arizona, the destroyer USS Macdonough and the battleship USS Mississippi before receiving shore duty at San Francisco, California, from 1930-32. 

Lieutenant Fuqua served in other ships and shore stations during the mid-1930s and was commanding officer of the minesweeper USS Bittern in the Asiatic Fleet in 1937–39.

“It’s a sense of pride: It’s not something you hear every day and that a local hero played such a big role in one of the biggest events in our history,” Hodges said. “That in itself should be big enough.”

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