Llewellyn Morris Chilson

Llewellyn Morris Chilson was born in Dayton, Ohio, on April 1, 1920. He was born to Frank and Goldia Chilton. His father was a World War I veteran and a bus driver. In 1930, when he was ten years old, his mother was struck and killed by a truck in front of their house.

Chilson had a rough childhood. He left high school at sixteen and took up a truck driving job where he hauled freight across the country.[1]

On March 28, 1942, Chilson was inducted into the United States Army. He had his basic training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. He was later transferred to Camp Livingston, Louisiana, and then to Camp Johnson in Florida for amphibious training with the 112th Inventory Regiment. In May 1942, he was transferred to Fort Pickett in Virginia with the 45th Infantry Division, also known as the Thunderbirds. There, he became a member of the anti-tank company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment.

On June 22, 1943, Chilson and his unit landed in Orano, Algeria, to prepare for the Invasion of Sicily. During that campaign, Chilson’s unit reinforced the beachhead at Anzio. On February 15, he was wounded by shrapnel, something he would later receive the Purple Heart for. Germans captured him and three other American soldiers after they ran out of ammunition in a firefight. They were made litter bears for the German forces.

Although they were captured, their capture did not last long. On February 17, Chilson and the others escaped. When they left, they took four enemy prisoners with them. By the end of their escape, Chilson had helped capture forty enemy soldiers.

In August of 1944, Chilson participated in the invasion of southern France, also known as Operation Dragoon. Soon after, he was transferred to the 2nd Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry. On October 28, he captured a hill and took twenty-five enemy prisoners.[2]

Chilson captured at least two hundred enemy prisoners in Germany during the battles from March 26 to March 31.[3]

Chilson’s brother, Staff Sergeant Alvin M. Chilson, was killed in action on February 16, 1945, while serving with the 37th Infantry Division in the Philippines.

By the end of 1945, Chilson was fighting the Germans near Neuberg when he was wounded. He was hospitalized and sent to England to receive care at the United States Army’s 34th General Hospital. While there, he met a nurse named Mary Armstrong; they would be married by the end of the year.[4]

Cain was honorably discharged on June 30, 1946, and marked as having a forty percent disability.

On November 17, 1947, Chilson reenlisted in the army. He waived his forty percent disability and became an Army Recruiter. In 1952, he was sent to Fort Hood to help train National Guardsmen. On May 24, 1962, he was one of only four survivors of the crash of the USAF Douglas C-124A Globemaster 2. The crash killed twenty-four people. He retired from the United States Army as a Master Sergeant in 1964. The National Guard Association considers him to be the second most decorated soldier of World War II.[5]

After retiring, Chilson and his family settled in Tacoma, Washington. There, he managed a gas station and was a taxi cab driver. He died on October 2, 1981, while on vacation in Tampa, Florida. He was 61 years old.


[1] Dorr, Robert F, “Duty, Honor, Country Army heroes: Chilson’s valor in 1945 earned seven awards,” Army Times.
[2] “Llewellyn M. Chilson Awards and Citations,” militarytimes.com, Gannet Corporation.
[3] “Llewellyn Chilson Awards and Citations,” TracesOfWar.com.
[4] “Llewellyn M. Chilson Awards and Citations,” militarytimes.com, Gannet Corporation.
[5] Daryl C. McClary, “HistoryLink Essay: U.S. Air Force C-124A Globemaster II Crashes near McChord Air Force Base on May 24, 1961,” Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, February 22, 2012.

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