James Edward Latta – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

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From a contemporary press report:

James Edward Latta, 74, died Tuesday, February 23, 1999. Mr. Latta was born December 11, 1924 in Granville County, North Carolina to the late R.I. and Bernice Regan Latta. He was raised in Harnett County and was a graduate of N.C. State University.

A resident of Mocksville since 1950, Mr. Latta retired in 1985 as a rehabilitation therapist at the VA Medical Center in Salisbury. Prior to going to work for the VA, he was co-owner of the FCX Store in Mocksville and before that was the Soil and Water Conservation agent for Davie County.

Mr. Latta served in the Army Air Corps in World War II as a flight engineer/gunner on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. Based in southern Italy, his 449th Bomb Group saw some of the Mediterranean Theater's heaviest action. Their missions included bombing raids on Munich, Vienna, the Brenner Pass, and the heavily defended oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania.

Mr. Latta flew 46 missions and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. He later served with the N.C. National Guard units in Mocksville and Mooresville and with the U.S. Army Reserve 312th Evacuation Hospital unit in Winston-Salem.

He was recalled to active duty during the Vietnam War and was stationed in Chu Lai. Upon his return, he commanded the 36th Medical Company, 39th Medical Group at Fort Bragg. Mr. Latta retired from the Army Reserve in 1985 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Mr. Latta was a long-time member of the First United Methodist Church in Mocksville and the Mocksville Rotary Club. He was also a member of the Mocksville Masonic Lodge and the Winston-Salem Scottish and York Rite bodies. He was appointed Grand Tyler of the N.C. Grand Masonic Lodge in 1991. He was a Mocksville town commissioner from 1961-1967.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia; two daughters, Sandra E. Latta of Arlington, Va. and Barbara Latta Cress and husband, David; two grandsons, Brett David and Devin Edward Cress, all of Matthews, N.C.; one sister, Cornelia Pickett and husband, Stewart, of Durham, N.C. and one niece, Mrs. Mary Anne Robinson, of Lewisville, N.C. Funeral services will be held Sunday, February 28, 1999, at 3:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Charles Turner officiating. Masonic rites will be given. Burial services will be held Tuesday, March 2, 1999, at 3:00 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

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