Lewis Millett

Lewis Lee Millett was born in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on December 15, 1920. As a child, his parents divorced, and his mother soon remarried, moving the family to South Dartmouth.

Millett’s family had a long legacy of fighting in American wars. His grandfather served in the American Civil War, and his uncle fought in World War I.

Millett was attending high school in Dartmouth when he enlisted in the Massachusetts National Guard in 1938. He joined his uncle’s old regiment, the 101st Field Artillery. In 1940, he joined the United States Army Air Corps and entered gunnery school.

As a young man, Lewis was eager to fight. As it became clear that the United States had no intention of entering the Second World War, he deserted the United States Army Air Corps. Millett and his friend hitchhiked to Canada and enlisted in the Canadian army. He was assigned to the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and was soon sent to the United Kingdom, where he became an anti-aircraft radar operator in London during the Blitz. In 1942, when the United States entered the war, he transferred to the United States Army.

Millett was assigned to the 27th Armored Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division. He served in Tunisia as an anti-tank gunner during “Operation Torch.” While there, he drove a burning ammunition-filled half-track away from allied soldiers. He jumped out of the vehicle just before it exploded. For this, he was awarded the silver star. He later shot down a Messerschmitt BF109 fighter plane using half-track mounted machine guns.

He also took part in the allied invasion of Italy and fought in the Battle of Salerno and Enzo. At this time, after becoming a sergeant, the U.S. Army discovered his 1941 desertion. He was court-martialed, convicted, ordered to pay a $52 fine, and stripped of his leave privileges. However, a few weeks later, he was given a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant.

After the Second World War ended, Lewis went home and attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He was there for three years before being called up to serve in the Korean War. By February 7, 1951, Millett was serving in South Korea as captain and commander of Company E of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment. On that day, he led his company in an assault on an enemy position atop a hill near Anyang. When one of his platoons became pinned down by heavy gunfire, Millett would take another platoon forward, join the two groups, and lead them up the hill. During the battle, he wielded his bayonet and threw hand grenades. He yelled encouragement to his soldiers throughout the conflict, and upon reaching the top of the hill, his men stormed the enemy position and forced the opposition soldiers to withdraw. Lewis Millett was injured in the battle when grenade fragments hit his shin. However, he refused to evacuate until the position was secured. For his bravery in this battle, he was personally awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in July 1951.

After the Korean War, he attended raider School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and served as an intelligence officer in the 101st airborne division. He later served in the Vietnam War as a military advisor to the controversial Phoenix Program. The Phoenix Program was designed to root out and kill Viet Kong sympathizers. In the mid-1960s, he commanded the Army Security Agency Training Center at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. In 1963, he earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science from Park College, now Park University, in Missouri. He retired from the military in 1973 at the rank of colonel.[1][2][3]

[1] Bernstein, Adam (November 18, 2009). “Daring soldier was awarded Medal of Honor”. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.
[2] Lawrence, J.M. (November 19, 2009). “Lewis Millett; awarded Medal of Honor after bayonet charge”. The Boston Globe. Boston.
[3] Ghiotto, Gene (November 14, 2009). “Medal of Honor recipient Lewis Millett dies at age 88”. The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California.

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