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First Name: Louis

Last Name: Wiilson

Birthplace: Brandon, MS, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Hugh

Date of Birth: 11 February 1920

Date of Death: 21 June 2005

Rank: General

Years Served: 1941 - 1979
Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr.

General, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

General Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr. (11 February 1920 - 21 June 2005) was a U.S. Marine Corps officer who was awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II. He was the 26th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr. was born on 11 February 1920 in Brandon, MS. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941 from Millsaps College, Jackson, MS, where he participated in football and track. He was also an active member of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, initiated on 23 February 1939.

Wilson enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in May 1941 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in November of that year. After attending officers' basic training, he was assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base, San Diego, CA.

Lieutenant Wilson was deployed to the Pacific Theater with the 9th Marines in February 1943, making stops at Guadalcanal, Efate, and Bougainville. He was promoted to Captain in April 1943. During the assault on Guam, on 25-26 July 1944, while commanding Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Wilson earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in combat when he and his company repelled and destroyed a numerically superior enemy force. Because of wounds received, he was evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital, San Diego, where he remained until 16 October 1944.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Commanding Rifle Company, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division.

Place and date: Fonte Hill, Guam, 25-26 July 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of a rifle company attached to the 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Fonte Hill, Guam, 25-26 July 1944. Ordered to take that portion of the hill within his zone of action, Capt. Wilson initiated his attack in mid-afternoon, pushed up the rugged, open terrain against terrific machinegun and rifle fire for 300 yards and successfully captured the objective. Promptly assuming command of other disorganized units and motorized equipment in addition to his own company and 1 reinforcing platoon, he organized his night defenses in the face of continuous hostile fire and, although wounded 3 times during this 5-hour period, completed his disposition of men and guns before retiring to the company command post for medical attention. Shortly thereafter, when the enemy launched the first of a series of savage counterattacks lasting all night, he voluntarily rejoined his besieged units and repeatedly exposed himself to the merciless hail of shrapnel and bullets, dashing 50 yards into the open on 1 occasion to rescue a wounded marine lying helpless beyond the frontlines. Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters, he led his men in furiously waged battle for approximately 10 hours, tenaciously holding his line and repelling the fanatically renewed counterthrusts until he succeeded in crushing the last efforts of the hard-pressed Japanese early the following morning. Then organizing a 17-man patrol, he immediately advanced upon a strategic slope essential to the security of his position and, boldly defying intense mortar, machinegun, and rifle fire which struck down 13 of his men, drove relentlessly forward with the remnants of his patrol to seize the vital ground. By his indomitable leadership, daring combat tactics, and valor in the face of overwhelming odds, Capt. Wilson succeeded in capturing and holding the strategic high ground in his regimental sector, thereby contributing essentially to the success of his regimental mission and to the annihilation of 350 Japanese troops. His inspiring conduct throughout the critical periods of this decisive action sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Captain Wilson returned to duty as Commanding Officer, Company D, Marine Barracks, Camp Pendleton, CA. In December 1944, he was transferred to Washington, DC, where he served as Detachment Commander at the Marine Barracks. While in Washington, he was presented the Medal of Honor by President Truman. He was promoted to Major in March 1945.

From June 1946 until August 1951, Major Wilson had consecutive tours as Dean and Assistant Director, Marine Corps Institute; Aide-de-Camp, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Pacific; and Officer in Charge, District Headquarters Recruiting Station, New York City.

Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in November 1951, while stationed at Quantico, VA, he served consecutively as Commanding Officer of The Basic School's 1st Training Battalion; Commanding Officer of Camp Barrett; and Executive Office of The Basic School. He completed the Officer's Senior Course in August 1954.

After a brief tour as a Senior School Instructor, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, he departed for Korea to serve as Assistant G-3, 1st Marine Division. In August 1955, he returned to the U.S. with the 1st Division, and was appointed Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. In March 1956, LtCol Wilson was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC), serving two years as Head, Operations Section, G-3 Division. He then returned to Quantico, first as Commanding Officer of the Test and Training Regiment, and later as Commanding Officer of The Basic School.

In June 1962, after graduation from the National War College, he was assigned as Joint Plans Coordinator to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Plans and Programs), HQMC.

He transferred to the 1st Marine Division and deployed with the Division in August 1965, stopping at Okinawa before going to Vietnam. As Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 1st Marine Division, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star.

Upon his return to the U.S. in August 1966, Col Wilson assumed command of the 6th Marine Corps District, Atlanta, GA. Promoted to Brigadier General in November 1966, he was assigned to HQMC in January 1967, as Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps until July 1968. He then served as Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, until March 1970, earning a second Legion of Merit.

He was advanced to the grade of Major General in March 1970 and assumed command of I Marine Amphibious Force, 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa, where he was awarded a third Legion of Merit for his service.

In April 1971, he returned to Quantico for duty as Deputy for Education/Director, Education Center, Marine Corps Development and Education Command. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in August 1972 and on 1 September 1972 assumed command of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. During that tour, LtGen Wilson was presented the Korean Order of National Security Merit, GUK-SEON Medal, 2d Class and the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Commander) for his service to those countries.

Wilson was promoted to General on 1 July 1975, when he assumed the office of Commandant of the Marine Corps. As Commandant, General Wilson repeatedly stressed modernization of the post-Vietnam Marine Corps. He insisted on force readiness, responsiveness, and mobility by maintaining fast-moving, hard-hitting expeditionary units, each consisting of a single integrated system of modern ground and air-delivered firepower, tactical mobility, and electronic countermeasures. General Wilson was the first Marine Corps Commandant to serve full time on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Post-Military Life

General Wilson retired on 30 June 1979 and returned to his home in Mississippi. For "exceptionally distinguished service" during his four-year tenure as Commandant, and his contributions as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster), upon retirement.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster)
Legion of Merit w/ Valor Device & 2 Award Stars
Purple Heart w/ 2 Award Stars
Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 Service Star
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 Service Star
Vietnam Service Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
National Order of Vietnam, Officer Degree
Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm & Gold Star
Korean Order of National Security Merit, Gugseon Medal
Philippine Legion of Honor
Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

Death and Burial

General Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr. died at his home in Birmingham, AL, on 21 June 2005. As with all former Marine Corps Commandants, in accordance with Article 1288 of Navy Regulations, all ships and stations of the Department of the Navy flew national flag at half-mast from the time of General Wilson's death until sunset of the date of interment.

General Wilson was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 19 July 2005. His grave is located in Section 7A, Grave 103-B.

Honoree ID: 1720   Created by: MHOH




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