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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Wilson

Birthplace: Centralia, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Lee

Date of Birth: 21 May 1920

Date of Death: 03 August 1944

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1941 - 1944
Robert Lee Wilson

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Robert Lee Wilson

Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private First Class Robert Lee Wilson (21 May 1920 - 3 August 1944) was a U.S. Marine who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Robert Lee Wilson was born on 21 May 1920 in Centralia, IL. One of eight children, Wilson was considered his father's right-hand man around the farm, before enlisting in the Marine Corps in the fall of 1941. "He was one of the best workers I ever saw," the boy's father said when speaking of his 23-year-old son. "None of my boys believed in waiting for the draft. They volunteered," he added.

Wilson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on 9 September 1941. He went to Chicago then to San Diego, CA, for recruit training. He fought in practically every major engagement in the Pacific until the day of his death. A Presidential Unit Citation signed by Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, dated 4 February 1943, was awarded him as a member of the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), in the Solomons in August 1942.

Serving with the 2nd Marine Division (Reinforced), Wilson received a second Presidential Unit Citation signed by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal "for outstanding performance of duty in combat during the seizure and occupation of the Japanese held Atoll of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, 20-24 November 1943."

Wilson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his self-sacrifice while serving with the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces at Tinian Island, Marianas Group, on 4 August 1944.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces at Tinian Island, Marianas Group, on 4 August 1944. As 1 of a group of marines advancing through heavy underbrush to neutralize isolated points of resistance, Pfc. Wilson daringly preceded his companions toward a pile of rocks where Japanese troops were supposed to be hiding. Fully aware of the danger involved, he was moving forward while the remainder of the squad, armed with automatic rifles, closed together in the rear when an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group. Quick to act, Pfc. Wilson cried a warning to the men and unhesitatingly threw himself on the grenade, heroically sacrificing his own life that the others might live and fulfill their mission. His exceptional valor, his courageous loyalty and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave peril reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Wilson and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Wilson's Medal of Honor was presented to his mother at a ceremony held on 26 July 1945, at the American Legion cottage in Centralia.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart (2)
Presidential Unit Citation (2)


The Gearing class destroyer, USS Robert L. Wilson (DD-847) was launched on 5 January 1946 and was commissioned on 28 March 1946. The USS Robert Wilson earned three battle stars for service during the Vietnam War. She was decommissioned on 30 September 1974.

Death and Burial

Private First Class Robert Lee Wilson was killed in action on 3 August 1944. Wilson was initially buried in the military cemetery on Tinian, but in 1948 his body was returned to the U.S. and re-interred at Hillcrest Cemetery in Centralia, IL.

Honoree ID: 1721   Created by: MHOH




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