Earl James Lea
Earl James Lea, age 98, of Shell Knob, Missouri passed away on Saturday May 15, 2021 in Monett, Missouri.
He was born October 2, 1922 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, the son of Ray and Vada (Rose) Lea who preceded him in death. Also preceding him in death were two sisters, Betty and Mary, one son, good friend and fishing partner, Michael Gordon of Grove, Oklahoma.
Earl received his education in Carl Junction, Missouri. After high school Earl served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Neosho, Missouri from 1938 to 1940. Later in 1940 he and a friend hitch hiked, walked and rode the rails from Missouri to Oakland, California where he found employment in the ship yards. In February of 1943 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. After recruit training he was attached to the 2nd Marine Division, serving in the Pacific during WW2 where he saw action in numerous battles. Wounded in the battle for Saipan on 15 June 1944 he was hospitalized in Hawaii to heal and recuperate and then returned to his old Marine unit. Earl’s marine unit was being held in reserve during the battle for Okinawa in early 1945 and at the time were practicing to invade the main island of Japan. Due to the Japanese surrender September 2, 1945 this invasion was not necessary. Earl’s unit was sent into Nagasaki Japan immediately after the surrender to destroy all Japanese armaments. Returning to the United States in December of 1945 where he was discharged February 1946 and receiving the following medals: Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Ribbon with 3 stars, Presidential Unit Citation with 1 star, World War 2 Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Upon the release from the Marine Corps at the end of WW2 he settled in Salida, California working for Federal Civil Service until retirement in 1973 and moving to Shell Knob where he enjoyed fishing, boating and viewing wild life. He was a Charter member of VFW Post 2203 of Shell Knob, Missouri American Legion Post 392 of Pineville, Missouri and the DAV.
On November 3, 1973 in Pineville, Missouri Earl married Hazel (Watson-Gordon) who survives. Also Surviving are two sons; Richard Lea and wife Patricia of Shell Knob, Darrell Gordon and wife Brenda of Anderson; four daughters, Linda Wilson and husband Gale of Washington state, Judy Bolen of Shell Knob, Linda Schlessman and husband Geral of Pineville and Barbara Faulks of Pineville; one brother, Bob Lea of Shell Knob and many nieces and nephews; Fourteen grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.
Graveside services with full military honors will be held at 10:00 A.M. Thursday, May 20, 2021 at Lake Park Memorial Gardens, Shell Knob, Missouri under direction of Fohn Funeral Home in Shell Knob. Dave Atkinson will conduct the services.
Visitation will be from 5:00 until 7:00 P.M. Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at Fohn Funeral Home in Shell Knob.
The family requested contributions be made to Shell Knob VFW 2203 in memory of Earl.
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