Friday, February 8, 2019

Bayonet Hill

(Source)
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain (Infantry) Lewis Lee "Red" Millett, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company E, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces at Hill 180, Soam-Ni, Korea, on 7 February 1951. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position Captain Millett noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire. Captain Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the two platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge Captain Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement. Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder. During this fierce onslaught Captain Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Captain Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service. (Source)
Korean War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He was decorated for an uphill bayonet charge into a fortified position. Raised in Maine, he joined the National Guard at 17 and served until 1940, when he left (technically, deserted) to join the Royal Canadian Army Air Corps due to his belief that the United States would not enter WWII. Millett saw combat as a gunner in North Africa, then, upon returning to the US Army in 1942, rose to sergeant, won the Silver and Bronze Stars, and received a battlefield commission the same day he was notified that his old records had caught up with him; court-martialed in absentia for desertion, he had been fined $52. Millett continued his service, then, after the war, returned to the Maine National Guard. He graduated from Bates College in 1949, then was re-activated for the Korean War. On February 7, 1951, then-Captain Millett was in command of E Company, 2nd. Battalion, 27th. Infantry at Soam-ni, Korea, participating in "Operation Punch". Observing a large number of Chinese fortified atop a hill, Millett lead a completely exposed bayonet-and-grenade charge into the stronghold. Though wounded, he continued his command until his men captured the position. For this action, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by Harry Truman on July 5, 1951, at the White House. In 1956, he graduated from Ranger School, and was assigned to the 101st. Airborne "Screaming Eagles". While at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, Millett established Division Recondo, an alternative Ranger training course (as opposed to the better-known one at Ft. Benning) that has been activated and de-activated several times over the years. In Viet Nam, he performed a variety of special operations duties, then retired in 1973. In his later years, he was active in veterans organizations, and a frequent guest at military functions. He died after a brief illness. The Colonel's awards include the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, three Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, and four Purple Hearts. He is the only man in Army history to achieve the rank of Colonel after a conviction for desertion. (Source)
Millet's Charge
US Army Infantry Museum, Ft. Benning, GA

(Source)
Veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

What a man, what a soldier.

I stand in awe.



I encourage you to chase all of those links above, you won't be sorry.

RIP Colonel...



54 comments:

  1. That reminids me of a book I read in elementary school. The corner to the left of the main doors had all the military history, mostly, WW2. I did find a small book about about a Korean war battle.... (Pork Chop Hill?? wow thats a dusty dim memory)...

    Guys were caught on top of a hill, grenades flying in from everywhere... One guy rolls over on a grenade to protect his buddies, and dies as a result. And it happened again and again and again.... If I remember correctly, no one got the CMH as a result, everyone was exhibiting courage beyond belief during that battle...

    Red sounds like a ball of fire. Thanks for bringing out the story of another REAL man.

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    1. I remember the school library, lots of books on WWII, I don't remember a single one about Korea.

      The Colonel was a Hell of a warrior!

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  2. Hey AfSarge;

    I remembered blogging about his several years ago, I heard a story about him when I was in basic training and we were issued the bayonet for the first time and they explained the idea behind the bayonet....besides sticking it in some guys gut and stirring things up, was the spirit behind it, that an American was willing to use cold steel to vanquish an enemy and the Colonels story was mentioned. The Red Chinese and NORKS had spread a rumor to their soldiers to stiffen them up that the Americans were soft and afraid of the bayonet. Well Captain Millett told his troops to "Fix Bayonets" and off they went. From what I had read, he credited the bayonet use to his British or Canadian training, because the Empires troops used it a lot more and he had passed that skill to his soldiers and that is why they were so effective.

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    1. I seem to recall a story in the past couple of years that the Army wanted to reinstitute bayonet training.

      I didn't know they had gotten rid of it. We did bayonet drill in Army ROTC back in '71-'72.

      I'll have another bayonet post soon.

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    2. Hey AFSarge:

      They got rid of bayonet training after Vietnam due to congressional pressure and we were the first cycle that got the bayonet back in 1985. "The spirit of the bayonet is to kill, kill, kill with out mercy"

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    3. They wanted to drop it again in the 2000s, see tomorrow's post.

      Drill with the bayonet is essential to inculcate aggressiveness into a soldier. Think pugil sticks as well.

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  3. A stirring post Sarge. A frozen salute to a real warrior.

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    1. I have never heard before about the intrepid Col. Millett. Thanks for your most informaive post. I'm reminded of one of my favorite exchanges from the motion picture "Zulu":

      "The Zulus are gone. It's a miracle!"
      "If it's a mracle, Colour Sergeant, it's a point four five caliber Boxer-Henry miracle."
      "And a bayonet. With some guts behind it."

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    2. "And a bayonet..."

      Love that movie, I've probably watched it over a dozen times.

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    3. “Why us sarge?
      Because we’re ‘ere lad; just us; nobody else”.

      Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne, 1/24th Warwickshires. I met his grandson three weeks ago. Family resemblance was astounding

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    4. Wow!

      Another favorite line from the movie, also said by the good Colour Sergeant, "Right- nobody told you to stop workin'."

      And you met his grandson, amazing.

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  4. There is an old saying that the war isn't over until a strategic Lance Corporal stands atop the rubble with his rifle, bayonet affixed, having killed the last enemy. Colonel Millett sounds like he was a Lance Corporal at heart.

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  5. Bravo. There is cold steel on both ends of those M-1's.

    Interesting that the painting shows full length M1905 bayonets and the one in the photo looks to be a later 10 inch blade.

    For anyone interested, here is a source for bayonet research--

    http://www.usmilitaryknives.com/Table%20of%20Contents.htm

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    1. In defense of the M-4 system we have now, it really isn't a very good bayonet platform. Now, the M-1/M-14 were ideal, good length, good weight, sturdy and 'strong like bull.'

      But, still, even a 3' gun-knife combo meets the rough length of an assegai, to tie this comment to all the "Zulu" comments above. And a 3' knife/gun combo is better than nothing.

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    2. Most people can face a bullet, can't see it, but that naked blade coming at you? Terrifying.

      I like what the Zulu call it, "iklwa," supposedly the sound it makes when being pulled from the enemy's body.

      Makes me shiver it does.

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  6. One of my wife's relatives was a Korea Conflict vet. A discussion about how returning Vietnam military members were being treated prompted him to open up about his feelings and experiences. Wow, what an eye opener for me!

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  7. It used to be that the willingness of Americans to get into a scrum was one of the things that, well, disturbed our more civilized opponents. Being able to get in close with your enemy can be a good thing, as, again, civilized folk have issues with firing upon their own.

    Uncivilized folk? Well, there's a reason they're uncivilized. Kill them.

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    1. After all, our ancestors had to fight the natives back in the day, often in their own backyards. Those fellows didn't play nice, so we learned not to as well.

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  8. Glad to hear that his bravery (aka desertion) didn't hurt his career. I would hope that the $52 was actually a slap on the wrist considering the continued service afterwards. I would love to hear the judge's side of it, if he was at all torn up over the decision.

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    1. Well, technically he was guilty, but yeah, the court seemed to have taken the "extenuating circumstances" into account.

      That would be an interesting transcript to read.

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    2. Yes, technically. If I was his lawyer I would have produced some admittedly back-dated paperwork for a transfer to the Canucks, requesting action on them, that would eliminate the need for the courts martial.

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    3. Wonder if the fine was $52 because that was how much he had in his pockets at the time of the court martial? Be interesting to see the transcript for sure!

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    4. At that time it may have been a month or two's pay!

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  9. I'm going to refrain from snippy comments and just write...

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Where is the real PLQ? What have you done with him?

      ;)

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    2. What did I miss-spell now?

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    3. Wait for it...

      I still say that the real Paul has been captured and this is an impostor posing as Paul.

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  10. He bears a striking resemblance to COL Robin Olds.
    Warriors both.
    John Blackshoe

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  11. Great post. I have been traveling for a few days now and real people to interact with have taken me away from the www thing. I wonder why I enjoy reading about these kinds of brave men. I am concerned that there are many brave men and women today who have been talked out of serving. They have perhaps missed the chance not only to serve, but to become heroes. I pray we'll never have to have too many more heroes.

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    1. That's my fear as well Dave, that we'll need 'em, and they won't be there.

      But you never know, we have a lot of good folks in the service now, just pray that DC doesn't go all cheap on them.

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  12. Every time I come here I learn something new.

    And it sure gets dusty in here.

    BZ, Colonel!

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  13. I notice he was in front of his men. Something to look for in any person in a leadership position above you. I had the fortune to notice that several times in my careers. I also had the misfortune to notice the lack thereof several times. Just a thought.

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    1. The motto of the infantry officer is "Follow Me!" Colonel Millett epitomized that philosophy.

      I too have seen both types. Sad innit?

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    2. I much prefer a system where the officer is in front, rather than the political officer in back. If you know what I mean.

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    3. The Flight LEAD is supposed to be the first to engage offensively. His wingman looks out for his six. He relinquishes that only when the wingman has better SA than he. (Again, a leadership trait, realizing that the wingaman has better SA than you.) There's quite a bit of trust involved. The Captain charged up the hill, trusting that his men were behind him. I'd bet my bottom dollar, he never looked back. Again, that's leadership.
      More to follow on Monday. Something I didn't know about somebody I did know. Good Story.

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    4. Nothing like a good wingman.

      Looking forward to Monday now. (And I don't say THAT very often!)

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    5. Oh, I always look forward to Mondays. And every other day, too...

      What is this on my nose?

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    6. Interesting how much dust accumulates on my computer when I read one of those Citations. The good Colonel, Captain then, was in the 27th infantry regiment nickname the Wolfhounds. You should look up how they got the name, hint it was in Russia. After World War One.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)