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First Name: Lewis

Last Name: Watkins

Birthplace: Seneca, SC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Greenville, SC
Middle Name: George

Date of Birth: 06 June 1925

Date of Death: 07 October 1952

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1950-1952
Lewis George Watkins

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Lewis George Watkins
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

Staff Sergeant Lewis George Watkins (6 June 1925 - 7 October 1952) was a U.S. Marine who sacrificed his life to save the lives of fellow Marines under his command and to contribute to the success of his unit's mission during the Korean War.

Lewis George Watkins was born on 6 June 1925 at Seneca, SC. He graduated from Greenville High School, SC, in 1949. He was a member of the Greenville Police Department when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 12 September 1950. After training at Parris Island, SC, he served at Camp Lejeune, NC, and Camp Pendleton, CA, before being deployed to Korea.

On 7 October 1952, Staff Sergeant Watkins' platoon was assigned to retake an outpost from the enemy. Although wounded in the fight, he placed automatic fire on the enemy machine gun position holding up the assault. When an enemy grenade landed among his men, he shoved them aside, picked up the grenade, and attempted to throw it at the enemy. The grenade exploded in his hand and wounded him mortally.

For his actions on 7 October 1952, Watkins was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a guide of a rifle platoon of Company I, in action against enemy aggressor forces during the hours of darkness on the morning of 7 October 1952. With his platoon assigned the mission of retaking an outpost which had been overrun by the enemy earlier in the night, S/Sgt. Watkins skillfully led his unit in the assault up the designated hill. Although painfully wounded when a well-entrenched hostile force at the crest of the hill engaged the platoon with intense small-arms and grenade fire, he gallantly continued to lead his men. Obtaining an automatic rifle from one of the wounded men, he assisted in pinning down an enemy machine gun holding up the assault. When an enemy grenade landed among Staff Sergeant Watkins and several other Marines while they were moving forward through a trench on the hill crest, he immediately pushed his companions aside, placed himself in a position to shield them and picked up the deadly missile in an attempt to throw it outside the trench. Mortally wounded when the grenade exploded in his hand, Staff Sergeant Watkins, by his great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, saved the lives of several of his comrades and contributed materially to the success of the mission. His extraordinary heroism, inspiring leadership, and resolute spirit of self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Watkins of Seneca, SC, received notification that their son had been awarded the nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, in a letter from General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Watkins family later donated the medal to the Patriot's Hall Veterans Museum in Walhalla, SC. Lewis Watkins is Oconee County's only Medal of Honor recipient.

Other Medals

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Watkins was awarded the following:

Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Korean Presidential Unit Citation


HR 1335 - introduced in 2007 and enacted as Public Law No: 110-59. - designates a United States Postal Service facility in Seneca, SC, as the "S/Sgt Lewis G. Watkins Post Office Building." From the Congressional Record 14 May 2007.

Death and Burial

Staff Sergeant Lewis George Watkins was killed in action on 7 October 1952. His remains were not recovered. A memorial to Lewis Watkins is located at Wolf Stake Cemetery in Oconee County, SC.

Honoree ID: 1250   Created by: MHOH




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