Braxton native, decorated war hero, founder of the West Virginia Air National Guard, memorialized
A true American Hero was honored Saturday afternoon with the dedication of a memorial in his honor on the Courthouse Square. Brigadier General James Kemp McLaughlin was born in Braxton County, on December 7, 1918. He was the son of James Blaine (JB) Mclaughlin from Glendon who was the Agricultural Commissioner of the state of West Virginia from 1933-1955.
General McLaughlin grew up on a farm in Strange Creek. He attended WVU before joining the Army in 1938 after they told him he would make a good pilot. That dream came true as he became a B-17 pilot for the Mighty Eighth Air Corps. After a distinguished and decorated World War II career, General McLaughlin was assigned the duty to organizing the first West Virginia Air National Guard which he commanded for 30 years.
General McLaughlin continued to serve his country until he retired from the Air Force and also served in local politics in Kanawha County. He wrote a book titled the Mighty Eighth in World War II. He died at 101 years old.
Dr. William “Doug” Given, who currently owns the farm General McLaughlin grew up on and was a friend of the decorated war hero, led the initiative to recognize the distinguished Braxtonian with a memorial on the Courthouse Square. That memorial was dedicated during the County’s Veterans Day celebration.
A large crowd turned out to honor General McLaughlin including several family members. Laura McLaughlin , the General’s daughter, welcomed those in attendance to begin the informal ceremony. She recognized and thanked Dr. Given for his efforts in permanently memorializing her father and Evelyn Post of Central West Virginia Aging Service for organizing the dedication ceremony.
Dr. Given gave a brief account of the General’s distinguished military career, followed by comments for other family members before the monument was unveiled.
The granite monument will allow visitors to the Braxton County Courthouse to know and remember one of the nation’s most dedicated and decorated soldiers for years to come.