Park to be dedicated in honor of Marine

ASHBURN, Ga. -- Just two weeks after the United States entered World War II, a Marine from Southwest Georgia was involved in an attack by Japanese troops that ended up costing him his life.

Later this week, officials from Turner County and the Albany military community will host a special ceremony in his honor.

A dedication for the Henry T. Elrod Park & Welcome Center will be held Tuesday on Washington Avenue in Ashburn.

Appearances by Maj. Gen. James Kessler, commanding general of Marine Corps Logistics Command, as well as the Albany Marine Band and a Marine Color Guard are scheduled to be part of the ceremony.

"It's a huge deal because he was a Marine from Turner County, and he did some really amazing things in the Marine Corps," said 1st Lt. Kyle Thomas, public affairs officer from Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.

Elrod was born in Rebecca in 1905 and entered the military service in Ashburn as a Marine aviator. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor as a result of combat action.

"The Medal of Honor was authorized by Congress in 1862, and to date there have been 3,468 recipients, of which only 239 have been Marines, eight from Georgia and one from Turner County," read a news release The Albany Herald obtained from Ashburn Mayor Jim Hedges.

Hedges could not be reached for further comment regarding the event Friday.

In one of the earlier battles of World War II, Elrod was responsible for organizing a defense that repelled numerous Japanese attacks on Wake Island before his position was overrun on Dec. 23, 1941.

During this interaction, he attacked a formation of 22 enemy planes and took down a destroyer by himself.

"The least we can do is this dedication," Thomas said. "He exemplifies what we stand for in the Marines, and he also exemplifies the state of Georgia."

The main road into the Marine Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va., is named after the Marine, as is the U.S.S. Elrod. He was initially buried on Wake Island but was moved later to the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday's event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m., after which an unveiling will take place.