About Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr.
General Louis Hugh Wilson, Jr. (February 11, 1920 – June 21, 2005) was a World War II recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Guam, and 26th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Wilson was born in Brandon, Mississippi. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941 from Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi, where he participated in football and track. Wilson was also an active member of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, initiated on February 23, 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, California.
World War II
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-July 26, 1944, while commanding Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, Wilson earned the nation’s highest 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 October 16, 1944.
Captain Wilson returned to duty as Commanding Officer, Company D, Marine Barracks, Camp Pendleton, California. In December 1944, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., 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.
1946 to 1965
From June 1946 until August 1951, Maj 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, Virginia, 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 United States 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.
1966 to 1975
Upon his return to the United States in August 1966, Col Wilson assumed command of the 6th Marine Corps District, Atlanta, Georgia. 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 September 1, 1972 assumed command of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. During that tour, Lt Gen 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.
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Wilson was promoted to General on July 1, 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.
General Wilson retired on June 30, 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.
He died at his home in Birmingham, Alabama on June 21, 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 July 19, 2005.
Awards and decorations
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CAPTAIN LOUIS H. WILSON, JR.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company F, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Fonte Hill, Guam, Marianas Islands, 25 and July 26, 1944. Ordered to take that portion of the hill within his zone of action, Captain Wilson initiated his attack in midafternoon, pushed up the rugged, open terrain against terrific machine-gun 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 one reinforcing platoon, he organized his night defenses in the face of continuous hostile fire and, although wounded three times during this five-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 fifty yards into the open on one occasion to rescue a wounded Marine lying helpless beyond the front lines. Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters, he led his men in furiously waged battle for approximately ten 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 seventeen-man patrol, he immediately advanced upon a strategic slope essential to the security of his position and, boldly defying intense mortar, machine-gun and rifle fire which struck down thirteen 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 dauntless valor in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain 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 enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN