The Ball Ground Lions Club conducted a ceremony Saturday to unveil the new mural dedicated to James Edmondson, Nelson’s life-long resident and World War II veteran.
The mural hangs at the city’s ball field that bears his name about a block from Edmondson’s home.
Edmondson, 88, said he was grateful for the Lions Club determination to install a new mural.
“I think it’s nice they are doing it,” he said.
The mural hangs at the field where Edmondson played on the local American Legion chapter’s baseball team.
The old mural was erected in May 2002 by the city. It had wooden panels and began to deteriorate, said Sue Densmore, membership director with the Lions Club.
Her husband, Glenn, said the old mural was in “deplorable” shape, so the club approached the city and asked if it could restore it.
The Nelson City Council earlier this year allowed the club to do the restoration.
Densmore said once the old mural came down, it was “too far gone” to save.
The new PolyMetal sign panel is 32 feet by 8 feet and includes images of the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross he received for his service, and the P-38 plane he flew during missions over Europe during the war.
At 18, Edmondson signed up to go into the Air Force after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
He served with the 860 Military Police before becoming a cadet in the Air Force. He became a commissioned officer and a P-38 fighter pilot, flying multiple missions over Europe with the 9th Air Force, 367th Fighter Group.
In October 1944, Edmondson was shot down over Germany and taken as a prisoner to the Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Poland.
Edmondson and his fellow prisoners were forced to walk without shoes or socks in snow and ice while they were being transported to Moosburg Stalag VII A, where he was held until the end of the war. He spent three months in captivity.
After his active military career, Edmondson served seven years with the Air Force Reserves in Marietta. He eventually went into a career with the Georgia Marble Company and retired as the chief of drafting, engineering and design.
Along with the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross, Edmondson was awarded the Air Medal, an 8-Oak Leaf Cluster, the P.O.W. medal and 5 service medals.
Mrs. Densmore said she was glad to see the mural completed for the entire city to enjoy.
She also said she hoped Nelson residents will begin to thank veterans like Edmondson for their service.
“It’s just really an honor to pay tribute to someone who has given so much to this country,” she said.