LUBBOCK, Texas – Early Tuesday morning, dozens of people were out in Levelland outside the courthouse to remember a former resident who died in Pearl Harbor.

Navy firefighter first class James O. McDonald’s remains were identified late last year. He was 25 years old when he was assigned to the U-S-S Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor.

World War II veteran Don Mays attended the remembrance ceremony and laid a wreath to honor the fallen hero.

“I can almost remember. I was like 14 years old,” Mays said. “Sunday morning when it happened, it was on the radio, and everybody just couldn’t believe it 80 years ago.”

Commander for Chapter 900 military ordered a Purple Heart South Plains of Texas. Steve Oien said the service paid tribute to those who lost their lives eight decades ago while also honoring and immortalizing McDonald’s sacrifice.

“We’re out here to honor the memory of Navy specialist first class McDonald and his loss on the Oklahoma December 7, 1941,” Oien said. “We’re here to honor him on Pearl Harbor Day. This year, 80 years later, [we] welcome [him] home.”

Levelland Mayor Barbara Pinner appeared to fight back tears as she announced that the city was honoring the fallen hero by naming the day in his loving memory.

“Levelland resident Navy fireman first class James O McConnell served at Pearl Harbor,” Pinner said. “Now, therefore, Barbara Pinner, mayor of the city of Levelland, Texas, in accordance with the National portal Harbor Remembrance Day do hereby proclaim December 7, 2021, is navy fireman first class James O. McDonald day.”