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Lewis Millett

lewis millett, lewis millett medal of honor
Lewis Lee Millett Sr December 15, 1920 – November 14, 2009 was a United States Army officer who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for leading the last major American bayonet charge

He enlisted into the National Guard while still in high school and then in 1940 joined the United States Army Air Corps When he thought that the United States would not participate in World War II he deserted and went to Canada with a friend where they joined the military and were sent to London The US did enter the war and by the time he made it to Europe they were in the fight so he transferred to the US Army While serving with the Army in World War II, he received a Silver Star for driving a burning ammunition truck away from a group of soldiers, before it exploded

During the Korean War, he was awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor The citation explains that he led a bayonet charge against the enemy He later served in the Vietnam War as well He retired from the Army in 1973 and died of congestive heart failure in 2009


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 World War II
  • 3 Korean War
  • 4 Vietnam War
  • 5 Later years and family
  • 6 Awards and honors
    • 61 Medal of Honor citation
  • 7 Other honors
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links

Early life

Millett was born on December 15, 1920, in Mechanic Falls, Maine He grew up in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, having moved there with his mother after his parents divorced and his mother remarried His grandfather had served in the American Civil War and an uncle fought in World War I with the 101st Field Artillery Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard

World War II

While still attending high school in Dartmouth, he enlisted in the Massachusetts National Guard in 1938 and joined his uncle's old regiment, the 101st Field Artillery In 1940, he joined the United States Army Air Corps and entered gunnery school When it appeared that the US would not enter World War II, Millett, eager to fight, deserted in mid-1941 With a friend who had received a bad conduct discharge from the US Marine Corps, Millett hitchhiked to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Army Assigned to the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, he was sent to the United Kingdom, where he served as an anti-aircraft radar operator in London during the Blitz By the time he arrived in the United Kingdom, the US had entered the war; Millett transferred to the US Army in 1942

Assigned to the 27th Armored Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Millett served in Tunisia as an anti-tank gunner During an engagement there, he drove a burning ammunition-filled half-track away from Allied soldiers, jumping to safety just before it exploded For this action, he was awarded the US military's third-highest decoration, the Silver Star He later shot down a Messerschmitt Me-109 fighter plane using half-track mounted machine guns

Millett, by then a sergeant, next took part in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno and the subsequent Battle of Anzio It was at this time that the US Army discovered Millet's 1941 desertion; he was court-martialed, convicted, ordered to pay a US$52 fine, and stripped of his leave privileges Only weeks later, he was given a battlefield commission to second lieutenant

Korean War

After World War II, Millett attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, for three years before being called up to serve in the Korean War

By February 7, 1951, Millett was serving in Korea as a captain and commander of Company E of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment On that day, near Soam-Ni, he led his company in an assault on an enemy position atop Hill 180 where the Osan Air Base is currently located When one platoon became pinned down by heavy fire, Millett took another platoon forward, joined the two groups, and led them up the hill Wielding his bayonet and throwing hand grenades, Millett yelled encouragement to his soldiers throughout the hand to hand fight Upon reaching the top of the hill, his men stormed the enemy position and forced the opposing soldiers to withdraw Although wounded in the shin by grenade fragments, Millett refused to be evacuated until the position was secured Historian SLA Marshall described the attack as "the most complete bayonet charge by American troops since Cold Harbor" Out of about 50 enemy dead, roughly 20 were found to have been killed by bayonets, and the location subsequently became known as Bayonet Hill

For his leadership during the assault, Millett was awarded the Medal of Honor The medal was formally presented to him by President Harry S Truman in July 1951 He was also awarded the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross, for leading another bayonet charge in the same month

Vietnam War

After the Korean War, Millett attended Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia He served in the 101st Airborne Division as an intelligence officer and later served in the Vietnam War as a military advisor to the controversial Phoenix Program, which aimed to root out and kill Viet Cong sympathizers He also helped found a "Recondo" reconnaissance-commando school which trained small units for deployment to Vietnam In the mid-1960s, he commanded the Army Security Agency training center at Fort Devens, Massachusetts In 1963, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Park College now known as Park University in Missouri

Millett retired from the military in 1973 at the rank of colonel He later stated that he retired because he felt the US had "quit" in Vietnam

Later years and family

After his military career, Millett served as a deputy sheriff in Trenton, Tennessee He eventually moved to Idyllwild, California, where he would remain for the rest of his life He regularly appeared at events celebrating veterans, both in the Riverside County area and elsewhere around the country He was a member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the California Commandery of the Military Order of Foreign Wars

Millett's first marriage, to Virginia Young, ended in divorce During the festivities surrounding his Medal of Honor award in 1951, he met Winona Williams The two were later married and had four children: Lewis Lee Jr, Timothy, John, and Elizabeth By the time of Winona Millett's death in 1993, the couple had been married over 40 years Millett's son John, an Army staff sergeant, was among more than 240 US military members killed in 1985 when their airplane, Arrow Air Flight 1285, crashed in Gander, Newfoundland, while carrying them home from peacekeeping duty in the Sinai Peninsula

Millett died of congestive heart failure on November 14, 2009, one month short of his 89th birthday He died at the Jerry L Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda, California, after being hospitalized four days earlier He had experienced various health problems over the last few years of his life, including diabetes His funeral was held December 5, 2009 at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California and his grave can be found in section 2, grave #1910

Awards and honors

The Army version of the Medal of Honor

Millett's military decorations include the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, four Purple Hearts, and three Air Medals

His other United States military awards include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal

His international military awards include the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, the Croix de Guerre, the United Nations Korea Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

US Awards & Decorations
Personal awards
  Medal of Honor
  Distinguished Service Cross
  Silver Star
  Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
  Bronze Star with "V" device & 2 oak leaf clusters
  Purple Heart with 3 oak leaf clusters
  Air Medal with "V" device & oak leaf cluster
  Army Commendation Medal
US Awards & Decorations
Unit awards
  Presidential Unit Citation with 3 oak leaf clusters
  Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Service awards
  Good Conduct Medal
Campaign & Service awards
  American Defense Service Medal
  American Campaign Medal
  European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 service stars
  World War II Victory Medal
  Army of Occupation Medal
  National Defense Service Medal
  Korean Service Medal with 1 service star
  Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  Vietnam Service Medal with 1 service star
Service & Training awards
  Armed Forces Reserve Medal
US Awards & Decorations
Badges and tabs
  Ranger Tab
  Combat Infantryman Badge 3rd Award
  Master Parachutist Badge
  Expert Marksmanship Badge w/ 3 weapon bars
Foreign Awards & Decorations
Individual & Unit awards
  French Croix de Guerre with Palm
  Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
  United Nations Korea Medal
  Vietnam Technical Service Medal 1st Class
  Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal 1st Class
  Vietnam Staff Service Medal 1st Class
  Vietnam Campaign Medal
  Korean War Service Medal
  Thai Master Parachute Wings

Medal of Honor citation

Millett's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Capt Millett, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position he noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire Capt Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the 2 platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill In the fierce charge Capt Millett bayoneted 2 enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder During this fierce onslaught Capt Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Capt Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service

Other honors

At Osan Air Base in South Korea, "Millett Road" is named after Colonel Millett It runs up Hill 180 – the hill where he led the legendary bayonet charge

A Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to Millet for Veterans Day in 1999, recognizing him as one of five Medal of Honor recipients from the Southern California desert area

In 2009, a park in San Jacinto, California, was named in honor of Millett

See also

  • Biography portal
  • United States Army portal
  • World War II portal
  • List of Bates College people
  • List of Korean War Medal of Honor recipients


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ghiotto, Gene November 14, 2009 "Medal of Honor recipient Lewis Millett dies at age 88" The Press-Enterprise Riverside, California Archived from the original on November 23, 2009 Retrieved November 21, 2009 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lawrence, JM November 19, 2009 "Lewis Millett; awarded Medal of Honor after bayonet charge" The Boston Globe Boston Archived from the original on November 23, 2009 Retrieved November 21, 2009 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bernstein, Adam November 18, 2009 "Daring soldier was awarded Medal of Honor" The Washington Post Washington, DC Archived from the original on November 23, 2009 Retrieved November 21, 2009 
  4. ^ a b "Medal of Honor recipients – Korean War" United States Army Center of Military History August 3, 2009 Retrieved November 21, 2009 
  5. ^ http://wwwparkedu/alumni/profiles/millettasp
  6. ^ Veterans Administration Grave Locator
  7. ^ Ham IV, Walter T "Battle of Hill 180 remembered on 60th anniversary" USFK General News Eighth Army Public Affairs Archived from the original on October 24, 2014 Retrieved January 30, 2013 
  8. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated Archived 2012-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  • Kirchner, Paul 2009 More of the Deadliest Men Who Ever Lived Paladin Press ISBN 978-1-58160-690-4 

External links

  • "Lewis Millett" Hall of Valor Military Times Retrieved March 17, 2010 
  • Lewis Millett at Find a Grave

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