CAIRO, MISS. (WCBI) – A Northeast Mississippi man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country gets an honor nearly 70 years in the making.
Oliver Wendell Pinson was in his early 20s when he was drafted during World War II. His younger sister remembers he was proud to defend his country.
“He chose the Navy as his specialty, so that’s what he wanted to do, was be a sailor,” said his younger sister, Sybile Mitchell.
Seaman Pinson was manning a forty millimeter gun on board the USS Little on May 3rd, 1945. The destroyer was operating about seventy miles west of Okinawa when it was attacked by Japanese planes. Pinson’s battle station took a direct hit and he, along with more than 40 other American sailors, lost their lives that day.
Now, nearly 7 decades later, they gathered at the New Lebanon Free Will Baptist Church to honor a true American hero.
A stretch of Mississippi Highway 364 has been renamed the “Oliver Wendell Pinson Memorial Highway.”
“He would be funny about it, he would be great about it and he would be proud of it,” Sybile Mitchell said.
Several World War II Veterans were at the ceremony. Among them, 93 year old Horace McCombs.
He grew up with Pinson and says naming part of the highway after his friend sends a strong message about patriotism and freedom.
“It means a lot, it sure is a lot of honor, I’m glad they did it, that plaque they uncovered, that’s really nice,” McCombs said.
Although he never knew his uncle, Robert Mitchell heard plenty of stories through the years about Seaman Pinson.
“I hope doing something like this might be more than just words, as people think about it over the years, as people hear our vets, talk about it, especially World War II, I think things like this are a great opportunity for the new generation to understand what sacrifice really means,” Robert Mitchell said.
Officials point out that renaming part of a highway is a lengthy process that begins at the local level, then it eventually requires legislative action.