Saturday, September 20, 2003

Ohio Moments

Gunny Lou Diamond was leather to the core

On Sept. 20, 1951, Master Gunnery Sgt. Leland "Lou" Diamond - better known as "Mr. Leatherneck," - died in Great Lakes, Ill. The Ohio native fought in both World Wars and was regarded as one of the most famous and colorful of the old-time Marines.

Born in Bedford, Ohio, in 1890, Diamond was such a dyed-in-the-wool Marine that his friends insisted he was issued at Tun Tavern in 1775 - the place and birth year of the Corps.

Diamond enlisted when he was 27. He was an expert with both the 60 and 81mm mortars. His accuracy was credited as being the turning point of many engagements in the Pacific during World War II.

Diamond was shipped out to Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was 52. Legend has it that he lobbed a mortar shell down the smoke stack of an off-shore Japanese cruiser. The fact is that he single-handedly drove it from the bay with harassing near-hits.

Diamond retired in 1945 and returned to his home in Toledo. He was buried with full military honors at Sylvania, Ohio.

Rebecca Goodman

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