MERCER COUNTY, WV (WVNS) – Mercer County only has one medal of honor recipient, a Staff Sergeant from Bluefield who vowed to kill every Nazi soldier he met on the battlefields of World War II.
James I. Spurrier, Jr. was known as Junior J. Spurrier after he filled out the wrong spaces on his Army enlistment form. He was born on December 14, 1922, and was one of five children born to James I and Ruby Spurrier. Depending on the account, he was born either in Coburn, VA. in Wise County or in Castlewood in Russell County, VA.
The entire capture of Achain, France was credited to S/Sgt. James J. Spurrier. When 2nd Bn. attacked Achain on November 14, 1944, the 22-year-old sergeant entered the town alone from the West while his company drove in from the East.
The medal of honor citation he received reads as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy at Achain, France, on 13 November 1944. At 2 p.m., Company G attacked the village of Achain from the east. S/Sgt. Spurrier armed with a BAR passed around the village and advanced alone. Attacking from the west, he immediately killed 3 Germans. From this time until dark, S/Sgt. Spurrier, using at different times his BAR and Ml rifle, American and German rocket launchers, a German automatic pistol, and handgrenades, continued his solitary attack against the enemy regardless of all types of small-arms and automatic-weapons fire. As a result of his heroic actions he killed an officer and 24 enlisted men and captured 2 officers and 2 enlisted men. His valor has shed fresh honor on the U.S. Armed Forces.”– National Medal of Honor Museum
Junior was considered a one man army, and he vowed to kill every Nazi he could in the war. It was after his brother was killed in France during the war that Junior went on to do exactly that. It’s estimated he killed as many as 250 Nazi soldiers, according to most accounts.
Spurrier’s family moved around many times due to the tough economy of the Great Depression, eventually landing in Princeton, West Virginia. The Princeton Times details that the first time he came to attention was on September 16, 1944, when he earned the Army’s second-highest honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions at Lay-Saint-Christophe, France. In the battle, he spearheaded an assault on a stubbornly-held hill, killing 25 German soldiers and capturing another 22. He also destroyed two enemy dugouts with hand grenades. Five days later, he was wounded in combat and received his first Purple Heart.
After these actions and much more during World War II, Junior Spurrier received a Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart, and several other prestigious awards. However, until the 21st century, his Medal of Honor was lost.
The long lost medals of Staff Sgt. Junior Spurrier, including the Medal of Honor, were found by Craig Corkrean, Chief of Police of Granville, West Virginia. He discovered the medals in 2011 when he was looking into a safe that contained his father’s personal items.
After years of searching, Spurrier’s medals are finally with him, back where they belong.