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Colorado Springs Man discovers father's WWII story

Philip Larimore set to be inducted into military post hall of fame after story revealed by son
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Posted at 6:08 PM, Jul 27, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Walt Larimore didn't know much about his father Philip's military service growing up.

But on his father and mother's 50th wedding anniversary, one of Walt's brothers asked a question that would later lead Walt on a 16-year journey to discover his dad's past.

His dad was an amputee after serving in World War II.

"One of my brothers said, Well, Dad, how did you really lose your leg? Because he had always told us jokes about how he lost it," Larimore said.

Larimore would later learn it was around that time a non-disclosure agreement was up for his father.

"He decided to talk, and boy did he have stories to tell," Larimore said.

Philip Larimore was the youngest graduate of the Officer Candidate School in Georgia at 17 years old.

"They couldn't even commission him as an officer, because he wasn't 18," Larimore said, "on his 18th birthday, he was commissioned a second lieutenant."

Growing up, Walt would hear a few stories about his dad's military service.

"The stories were consistent, but they seemed consistently unbelievable," Larimore said.

When hearing his dad's story, Larimore was most surprised by how his dad wanted to share the stories of the other people he served with, not just himself.

His dad was sent on a top-secret mission to try and rescue the world-famous Lippizan stallions. Larimore said he had been sent in to see if Hitler had sequestered the horses.

"If he had been found out, he would have been declared AWOL out of the army, If he'd have been killed, he would have been disavowed. But he chose to go on that mission. And that, I think that was part of keeping his secrets." Larimore said.

Days later, Philip Larimore would lose his leg in battle, a month before the war ended.

Walt Larimore said his dad described the situation as "dire".

Larimore said his dad had called for a tank to come in.

"And actually three tanks came in, he hopped on the back of one of the tanks that enter the turret, which is on top buying a 50 caliber machine gun and as they entered the clearing, where his men were, he started manning that machine gun," Larimore said.

The gun was fired until it ran out of ammunition. The tank started to retreat and Larimore saw additional snipers.

"He either jumped off the tank or was knocked off the tank. I have two accounts," Larimore said.

"He was firing his semi-automatic gun in rapid fire to kill people that were shooting at him and that's when he got shot in the leg. He fell in the tank commander thought he was dead. So they actually retreated, retreated back. It turns out he wasn't his Colonel went in just at dusk because they he wanted to find the body himself. And when they got there, he was still alive. He had put a tourniquet around his leg to keep him from bleeding to death," Larimore said.

Philip Larimore would return to the states and go through rehab for his leg. He would later petition members of Congress and military leaders to try and continue his military service as an amputee, it was a fight he wouldn't win.

Larimore would later become a map-making professor at Louisiana State University.

After Philip Larimore's death, Walt Larimore discovered memorabilia from his father and it led him on this 16-year journey, tracking down people and family members of people his dad had served with.

His dad's story is detailed in the book "At First Light" written by Larimore. Since the book's publishing, it gained the attention of the 3rd Infantry Division in Georgia.

Philip Larimore will be inducted into the post's Hall of Fame next week.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Larimore shares additional discovery in writing his dad's story

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