If there is a picture of someone next to the word “warrior” in the dictionary, it would be Lewis Millett.
The man joined the Army in 1940 to fight the fascists in Europe, but left the service when he figured out that the U.S. wouldn’t enter the war. But instead of deserting to run from battle, Millett did so to run to battle, joining the Canadian armed forces, where he fought in England.
When the U.S. joined the war in 1942, Millet was able to transfer back to the American Army. Joining the 1st Armored Division, Millett earned the Silver Star – the nation’s third-highest award for valor – for his actions in North Africa. He also fought at Salerno and Anzio, but paperwork suggesting he had “deserted” in 1940 (by going to Canada) caught up to Millett. He was court-martialed, demoted to private, and fined $52.
However following his punishment, Millett received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant and a Bronze Star.
In his second war, Millett was the Company Commander in the 27th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. On February 7, 1951 on Hill 180 (present-day Osan Air Base in South Korea), he led an incredibly daring assault in what is believed to be the last bayonet charge in American military history. And it is worth noting that the CO that Millett replaced also was awarded the Medal of Honor, but posthumously.
After the Korean War, Gen. William Westmoreland picked Millett to command the Recondo school, which produced some of the world’s finest jungle warriors.
The man took something as tame as retirement and kicked it up a notch: Millett retired in 1971 because he felt the U.S. no longer wanted to win in Vietnam. He took up work as a sheriff’s deputy.
There is so much more to the warrior, who unfortunately passed away in November. Please read the other posts about Col. Millett here.
Starting today, Unto the Breach will post citations of actions that earned the Medal of Honor.
Today’s featured recipient is Captain Eugene B. Desiderio, the company commander of Echo Company, 27th Infantry Regiment. 59 years ago, Capt. Desiderio and his men repelled an enemy attack by charging with rifles and grenades, despite having been wounded twice before the charge. Desiderio was mortally wounded during the attack.
His citation can be found here, and citations for other Medal of Honor recipients can be found in the “Hall of Heroes” category located on the blog sidebar.
Desiderio’s replacement was Capt. Lewis Millett, whom also earned the Medal in a bayonet charge that following February.
Military History magazine conducted a great interview in 2002 with the late Medal of Honor recipient Col. Lewis Millett.
Among many other new things I learned about Col. Millett, I read that the commander whom Millett replaced, Capt. Reginald B. Desiderio, was also awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously) for his actions. Only three months after Desiderio’s actions, Millett’s bayonet charge would earn him the medal as well.
Desiderio also fought in Southern France and Germany during World War II, earning a Silver Star, Purple Heart, and four Bronze Stars for courage.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS
THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
CAPTAIN (INFANTRY) JAMES CARL KOTRC
UNITED STATES ARMY
EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM IN ACTION
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Captain (Infantry) James Carl Kotrc (ASN: OF-101540), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company D, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Captain Kotrc distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 29 July 1969 while commanding an airborne assault mission to reinforce a beleaguered Civilian Defense Group. Continue reading “James C. Kotrc Distinguished Service Cross citation”
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
ROBERT FRANKLIN FOLEY
for service as set forth in the following
For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain Robert Franklin Foley, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces at Quan Dau Tieng, Republic of Vietnam, on 5 November 1966. Captain Foley’s company was ordered to extricate another company of the battalion. Moving through the dense jungle to aid the besieged unit, Company A encountered a strong enemy force occupying well concealed, defensive positions, and the company’s leading element quickly sustained several casualties. Captain Foley immediately ran forward to the scene of the most intense action to direct the company’s efforts. Deploying one platoon on the flank, he led the other two platoons in an attack on the enemy in the face of intense fire. During this action both radio operators accompanying him were wounded. At grave risk to himself he defied the enemy’s murderous fire, and helped the wounded operators to a position where they could receive medical care. As he moved forward again one of his machinegun crews was wounded. Seizing the weapon, he charged forward firing the machinegun, shouting orders and rallying his men, thus maintaining the momentum of the attack. Under increasingly heavy enemy fire he ordered his assistant to take cover and, alone, Captain Foley continued to advance firing the machinegun until the wounded had been evacuated and the attack in this area could be resumed. When movement on the other flank was halted by the enemy’s fanatical defense, Captain Foley moved to personally direct this critical phase of the battle. Leading the renewed effort he was blown off his feet and wounded by an enemy grenade. Despite his painful wounds he refused medical aid and persevered in the forefront of the attack on the enemy redoubt. He led the assault on several enemy gun emplacements and, single-handedly, destroyed three such positions. His outstanding personal leadership under intense enemy fire during the fierce battle which lasted for several hours, inspired his men to heroic efforts and was instrumental in the ultimate success of the operation. Captain Foley’s magnificent courage, selfless concern for his men and professional skill reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.
Born: May 30, 1941 in Newton, Mass…. Graduate of U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1963… PFC John F. Baker, Jr., also of A. Co., earned the Medal of Honor during the same battle… Presented Medal of Honor by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson – along with Baker – at the White House on May 1, 1968… Retired in 2000 as a lieutenant general