Thursday, January 21, 2010

a story of service, inspiration and life long courage

my copy of the AMERICAN RIFLEMAN arrived yesterday and brought the news of the passing of an AMERICAN warrior icon.

i first became aware of LEWIS MILLETT while stationed in the former west germany in the late 80's. the army liked to hang pictures of historical figures, to i guess inspire troops and foster an esprit de corps. above is a copy of that picture.

it depicts then CAPTAIN MILLETT leading what is considered to be the last bayonet charge by AMERICAN forces, in a company size formation, up hill 180, later changed to BAYONET HILL, near soam-ni, korea, on february 7, 1951.

for leading this action MILLETT was awarded the MEDAL OF HONOR, and the citation reads in part, that; CAPT. MILLETT distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. while personally leading his company in an attack on a strongly held position, he noted that his 1st platoon was pinned down. MILLETT placed himself at the head of his two (remaining) platoons and with fixed bayonets led the assault. MILLETT bayoneted, clubbed ,and grenaded the enemy while urging his men forward. during the fierce onslaught, MILLETT was wounded but refused evacuation until the hill was secured. due to his dauntless leadership and personal courage, his men were so inspired, that they stormed the enemy position, and used their bayonets so effectively that the enemy fled in wild disorder.

a few years ago i purchased and read BEYOND GLORY *MEDAL OF HONOR HEROES IN THEIR OWN WORDS* by larry smith. smith went out and interviewed 24 MOH recipients .
MILLETT'S story was amazing. he volunteered in 1938 then deserted and went to canada, where he volunteered for their army,when he thought the U.S. would sit out the war. while station in average britian, MILLETT was able to get back in the U.S. army and was assigned to the 1st armored division who he served with in north africa. at kasserine, MILLETT shot down an attacking fighter plane.

MILLETT received a SILVER STAR and went on to see action at SALERNO and ANZIO. he also received a BRONZE STAR after calling down artillery fire, on his own position, near the cinquale canal in italy.

at the wars end, after having enlisted, deserted, joined the canadian army, reenlisted in the AMERICAN army, receiving the SILVER STAR, been court martialed for desertion, promoted to lieutenant,receiving the BRONZE STAR, participating in 7 campaigns and 3 amphibious landings, MILLETT was discharged and returned to civilian life. while in college in maine, he was recalled to active duty.

the summer of 1950 found MILLETT at the pusan perimeter in south korea where he again called in artillery on his own position. later still he was wounded in the leg and became an aerial observer. during this time MILLETT found a shot down fighter pilot, ordered his pilot to land and evacuate the fighter pilot while he stayed behind fighting off enemy infantry until his own plane returned.

MILLETT volunteered for a transfer to the infantry and became the company commander of E company 27th infantry regiment, THE WOLFHOUNDS. it was with them that MILLETT led the attack on hill 180, which he received the MOH for and 2 previous bayonet charges. MILLETT did this, as he was pissed over some enemy intel that was recovered saying AMERICANS were afraid of the bayonet.

MILLETT was awarded a DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS for the 2nd charge. MILLETT went on to start the RECONDO schools for the 101st AND 82nd AIRBORNE divisions. in 1960 MILLETT went to vietnam where he trained ARVN rangers and ended his combat career as PHOENIX team adviser, retiring as a colonel.

during his 35 year career, LEWIS MILLETT was awarded the MOH, DSC, SILVER STAR, 3 BRONZE STARS, 3 PURPLE HEARTS, and 2 LEGIONS OF MERIT as well as numerous other foreign and U.S. awards and citations. he refused all U.S. decorations for his service in southeast asia.

because of his protest of gerald ford's pardoning draft dodgers, who went to canada during the vietnam war, he was also pardoned by ford from his desertion conviction.

asked why he fought, MILLETT said; i believe in freedom, i believe as a free man it is my duty to help others under the attack of tyranny. if free men don't help others to retain or regain our freedom, then we'll lose it in the final analysis.

LEWIS MILLETT died at the age of 88 on november 14, 2009.

the 27th infantry regiment crest



  1. Dudes likes CPT Millett and COL Howard are inspirational...they make me proud to have been a soldier. I think I might start doing a weekly or bi-weekly highlight of living MoH recipients

  2. a great idea, did you read the book the SILVER STAR? i think there might be a companion book called the NAVY CROSS.


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