Skip to comments.Daring soldier was awarded Medal of Honor - Col. Lewis L. Millett 1920-2009 (Army deserter)
Posted on 11/18/2009 7:37:48 PM PST by Libloather
Daring soldier was awarded Medal of Honor
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Lewis L. Millett, 88, a career Army officer who was briefly and somewhat misleadingly court-martialed for desertion during World War II and went on to receive the Medal of Honor for leading a bayonet charge during the Korean War, died Nov. 14 at a veterans hospital in Loma Linda, Calif. He had congestive heart failure.
Col. Millett, who sported a red handlebar mustache, cut an audacious and unconventional path during his 35 years of military service. He led daring attacks in two wars and was instrumental in starting a reconnaissance commando school to train small units for covert operations in Vietnam.
He also was an Army deserter. He later said he had been so eager to "help fight fascism and Hitler" that he left an Air Corps gunnery school in mid-1941 -- months before the U.S. entry into World War II -- to enlist with the Canadian army and go overseas. He manned an antiaircraft gun during the London blitz before rejoining the U.S. Army, which had by that time declared war and apparently was not being overly meticulous in its background checks.
As an antitank gunner in Tunisia, he earned the Silver Star after he jumped into a burning ammunition-filled halftrack, drove it away from allied soldiers and leapt to safety just before the vehicle exploded. Not long after, he shot down a German Messerschmitt Me-109 fighter that was strafing Allied troops. Col. Millett, who was firing from machine guns mounted on a halftrack, hit the pilot through the windshield.
He had fought his way through Italy, participating in the campaigns at Salerno and Anzio, when his paperwork caught up with him.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Col. Lewis L. Millett's unconventional Army career included a court-martial under unusual circumstances during World War II. (Courtesy Of Army Historical Foundation)
That is one certified BADA$$!!!
Love that mustache. :)
Now there’s a career-limiting move for ya. Just think, he could have been a general if he hadn’t gone over the hill.
My friends and I have one term for men like this, “bullfighter.”
Rest in peace, Sir.
If all deserters left just because they couldn’t get into the fight soon enough, we’d likely have a whole army of Medal of Honor recipients...
God Bless Colonel Millett.
“That is one certified BADA$$!!!”
Worked for him in ‘67. He was indeed unique.
Sad about his son dying in the Gander crash.
Lucky you. I was only priviledged to hear him speak once at CGSC. You could tell what kind of man he was. As this was during BJ Clinton’s tenure, he was both refreshingly un pc and hysterically funny
In the painting of the charge up the hill the soldiers are equipped with the wrong bayonets for M-1 rifles. That long bayonet went out back in the 1920's or so and the remaining stock was cut off short and new points ground on them. I don't think they were issued even in WWII much less Korea.
One hell of a soldier his exploits sound more like my Marines!
My kind of deserter. Rest in peace, sir.
P I N G
Rest in peace, soldier. Job well done.
You’re right, that photo needs no caption. It is quite apparent that Obama is the antithesis of Col. Millett in every way imaginable.
The history of M1 Garand Bayonets
by Robert Gibson
There are actually five (5) distinct types of bayonets that are “correct” for a U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, M1, depending upon which was authorized for a particular point in time.
MODEL 1905 BAYONET, WWI-Era: Originally designed for M1903 and M1917 US Rifles, this was first type to see use on the Garand. They usually came with a canvas covered, wooden scabbard. The bayonet had a bright blade until about 1917, after which they were parkerized. Later, during WWII, almost all of the earlier “bright blade” 1905 bayonets were parkerized too since it cut down on reflection in combat. These are very hard to find and are very collectable. The blade was 16” in length and each bayonet had its own serial number, along with a manufacturer’s name or code and date stamp. The grips were made of wood.
MODEL 1905 BAYONET, WWII-Era: These are identical to the WWI bayonets except they were parkerized from the start, are rougher in appearance and finish and were equipped with black or reddish plastic grips rather than wooden ones. They have no serial numbers and are dated either “1942” or “1943.” Many call this the Model 1942 bayonet, however this isn’t the official name. These bayonets came with the M3 olive-drab fiberglass scabbard.
I’ve not run across either WWI or WWII M1905 bayonets in some time except in private collections, and those weren’t for sale at any price.
BAYONET, M1: In mid-1943 a new bayonet was ordered with shorter blade of 10” length. It was identical to the WWII 1905 except for the 10” blade. A shorter M7 olive-drab metal/fiberglass scabbard came with it. A very few were dated 1943; the vast majority are undated.
MODEL 1905E1 BAYONET: In 1944-1946 many of the WWI and WWII 1905 bayonets were reworked by cutting them down to a 10” length. Depending upon who did the modification, the ends were reground to either a spear or clip point. Any wooden grips were exchanged for black or reddish plastic types. This bayonet would fit into an M7 scabbard, or into a modified M3 (cut down to the shorter length).
BAYONET, M5: In 1954, the bayonet for the M1 Garand was completely redesigned. It came with a 7” blade and was made in several sub-types: M5, M5-1 and M5A1, which reflect just minor differences in construction. It used the same M8A1 scabbard as issued with the M4 Carbine bayonet.
Note on the M5/M5-1/M5A1:
“In Kuhnhausen’s book the M5 and M5A1 are almost identical, with the differences being: (1) the grind of the cutting edge on the M5 goes straight all the way to the guard while the M5A1 curves to nothingness at the guard, and (2) on the M5 the spring that activates the lug release button is at right angles to the button and the tang, while on the M5A1 the tang is modified slightly with an angled surface so the spring is angled toward the point of the knife at about a 45 degree angle instead of at right angles. A third difference is the lug release piece. On the M5 it is a folded piece of sheet steel that when viewed from the front forms a U shape, while on the M5A1 though it is almost identical, there is a fold of metal to enclose the front of the button at the front of the button piece.” —Frank Burke
The most desirable are the WWI Model 1905 bayonets. Two years ago I was offered a WWII Model 1905 for $90 but I passed. Today I’m given to understand the price would be much, much higher, if you could find one for sale to start with. Yes, I’ve kicked myself over this ever since.
I wouldn’t even hazard a guess on a price for an WWI Model 1905.
There are many 7” M5 types around today. Many of these are repro/clones that were made by the ROK (Republic of Korea) for use when their armed forces carried the M1 Garand. These clone M5 series bayonets can be found most anywhere at quite low prices. I’ve seen them running well under $20.
Hope this info helps.
Note on Korean War M1 Bayonets:
The correct bayonet for the U.S. Rifle, Cal. .30, M1 for the KOREAN WAR PERIOD, 1950 thru 1953, could actually be either of the following; note that both are “hold overs” from World War II.
Bayonet, M1 with M7 fiberglass scabbard. It has a 10-inch blade. The fuller was 5.75-inches long and began 3-inches from the point. The blade tip ended in a spear point and plastic grips, black or brownish in color, were installed. Production of this bayonet type began in mid-1943 during World War II (as mentioned above).
Bayonet, M1905E1 with M7 fiberglass scabbard Between 1944 and 1946 the US Govt modified many of the earlier 16-inch M1905 Type 1 and Type 2 bayonets by cutting the blades to 10-inch length and regrinding the tips to either spear or clip points. They’re easily ID’d since the blood groove runs out past the blade tip. There is some evidence to support the claim that once these essentially World War I vintage bayonets were modified to the 10-inch blade length they became mixed with the Bayonet, M1 in the US Govt logistical supply system of the day and were also called Bayonet, M1. Technically this was incorrect as the official designation is M1905E1. Many of the 16-inch M3 scabbards that matched the 16-inch M1905 bayonets were modified to accept the shorter 10-inch M1 and M1905E1 bayonets.
If the correct bayonet used during the Korean War (1950 to 1953) is what you’re looking for, you want either the M1 or M1905E1 with 10-inch blade.
Many are going to tell you the Bayonet, M5 with its 7-inch blade is the correct Korean War bayonet to match the M1 Garand. This just simply is not true. This shorter-bladed bayonet wasn’t developed until 1954, the year after the end of open combat in Korea. This newer 7-inch bayonet (with the M8A1 scabbard) did indeed make it to Korea where it saw use for something like 20 years (maybe longer) with both US and ROK armed forces, however it wasn’t on the scene until after the end of open hostilities.
For those rifles that may have fought in combat in Korea between 1950-1953 then the M1 or M1905E1 are “correct.” If the rifle served afterwards then the M5 is probably a safe choice. Naturally there would’ve been some degree of overlap until such time as the older M1/M1905E1 types were phased out and replaced by M5 bayonet type; maybe a year or two? Who really knows for sure.
Hope this is of some help to you.
Why is it a genuine American ARMY hero can't be complimented without some jarhead bringing up thu muhrines?
I had the dubious honor of spending five minutes with the famous Col. Lewis Millett in 1959 while he was setting up his “Recondo” school at Fort Campbell KY.
I was in the commo platoon of the 501st. And was told to take a PA set and set it up at the new school.
When everything was in place I went looking for someone to
sign for the equipment.
I found an Officer sitting in a tent holding a snake in his lap and wearing a CMH around his neck.
I was young and dumb, so I ask him if he would sign for the gear. He said “sure. hold my snake” (it was a copperhead)
He signed. I gave him back his pet,snapped off a salute and
backed out of the tent.
I found out later who he was. I have never forgoten his cold dead eyes. He scared the hell out of me.
Rest in Peace Sir. Geronimo.
God bless Col. Millett.
Thank you for the post.
Ironically, my son and I just watched the NRA’s American Rifleman Video Collection entitled “Guns Of Valor”.
Chapter 4: “Lewis Millet’s M-1 Rifles and Bayonets” tells more information about this American hero. What a man’s man!
Sorry to see men like this pass away, and today I was reminiscing about a WWll vet I knew, I remember once talking with him about “D-day”, as in June 6, 1944 the Allied invasion of Normandy, and this particular vet a got little ticked off at me, telling me the South Pacific theater was the only theater of war he had fought in and as far as he was concerned it was just as brutal as any of wars/battles fought. (Just finished “The Right Kind of War” by John McCormick, a marine who fought in the Pacific, he describes the differences between an enemy who gave no quarter and expected no quarter, vs the Germans in Europe, who just before their machine gun post would be overrun, and just after killing your buddies, would step out with a white flag. Interesting perspective I had never thought of)
Anyway, thanks for bringing to our attention the passing of Col. Millet. Men like him are missed!
Bump.. I would say they don’t make men like him any more but we do see it every day in our current conflicts by the latest generation.. the media just ignores our current heroes..
I do kind of have a laugh that he was court martialed for desertion for basically charging too soon.. hell of a guy.
C**k and balls! as they say.
Well, God bless him!
Col. Millet had definitely been there and done that.
Only because that’s our reference point. If he stacks up well alongside Chesty Puller, and he does, that’s a HIGH compliment.
By averaging casualties per days fought in each of the battles, the US Army sustained higher casualty rates in both the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge than did the USMC on Iwo Jima. As a percentage of combatants, the Army landed approximately 73,000 troops on 6 June. The Iwo Jima battle involved approximately 80,000 marines versus the initial invasion force of Army troops.
The often cited "higher casualty rate" of the marines on Iwo Jima compared to Normandy does not take into account that on 6 June 1944, there were 2499 Americans killed on that day alone, versus the total of 6821 killed in 35 days fighting on Iwo Jima.
Averaged out over a 35 day period, the Army sustained 8480 killed in action and 38,614 wounded in action.
Clearly, the Germans were quite capable of inflicting massive numbers of casualties.
By the way, who's Chesty Puller? ;-)
RIP Col. Lewis L. Millett, 1920-2009.
Oh, we have our heroes... and Col. Millet, from all accounts, would compare well with most. Chesty Puller would be good, as he went from Private to LtGen in a career that went from 1918 to 1955 or thereabouts and was awarded five Navy Crosses in wars and campaigns from WWI to Nicaragua in the Banana Wars to China in the ‘20s and ‘30s to WWWII to Korea. But I suspect you know all that.
Col Millet is the sort of man I would love to have met and listened to for hours on end. RIP, Sir!!!
You really want to start that?LOL
God Bless You, Col. Millett!
Met the guy many times when I was stationed in Hawaii with the Woldfhounds......and while he technically deserted the Army to join in WWII before the U.S. did, calling him a “deserter” is intellectually lazy.
Never met a more stand-up American warrior.
I was honored to have served under “Bayonet” Millett when he was the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Army Security Agency Training Center & School at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts in 1966 & 1967.
I think of all the units I served in during my 20 year Army career, the USASA regiment at Ft. Devens was the best under the command of Colonel Millet - high morale, good discipline and high standards in the academics of Military Intelligence.
“Good night, sweet prince may flights of angels guide thee to thy rest.”
Millett was 100% badass to the enemy, but having served under him at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, I can say that he had a heart of gold for the health and welfare of his troops - did you know he even helped us ASA trainees at Ft. Devens get girlfriends?
Seriously, every Friday night a large bus to various USO dances in central Massachusetts was made available for those on pass. Many soldiers stationed at Ft. Devens while Millett was ASA commander met their future wives at these dances.
Thanks for the Millett story.
It’s interesting how different people see different things in Millett.
Just before I PCS’d to my first overseas assignment in Peshawar, Pakistan I was assigned to be Millett’s driver for the day on April 19, 1967. I was a PFC at the time and had the crap scared out of me by my chain-of-command and warned that I faced a fate worse than death if I screwed up on this detail.
However, on the drive to and from Boston from Ft. Devens, Massachusetts (Millett was addressing the VFW on this Patriot’s Day) was pleasant and the Colonel and me had a very interesting conversation on the American Revolution, which had been the subject of his VFW speech.
I’ll always remember Millett as a kindly middle aged officer and gentleman who treated his 18 year old driver and escort for the day like a son.
One small question: The marines are a branch of the navy aren’t they?
I was reading a book on Korea and it said the Chinese were quicker to give up the fight than the North Koreans. The Chinese were better soldiers when a gun was at their back.
The Chinese were experts at using your own captured weapons against you.